City of Idaho Falls' lawyer resigns amid questions about billing
As the city of Idaho Falls searches for new legal council, we're learning more about why city attorney Dale Storer decided to quit.
Storer and his law firm had been overbilling the city for his services, but not billing them frequently enough. This was all uncovered following a public records request, and the faulty billing actually benefited the city.
Idaho Falls Mayor Jared Fuhriman said that had Storer not tendered his resignation Wednesday, he would have been fired.
"We don't want to have anyone in the community question our integrity," Fuhriman said.
The integrity was called into question following the discovery of some faulty billing from Storer, which dates back to at least 2007.
According to Storer's contract with the city, he's owed a salary of $101,067 per year, plus benefits. A separate contract states that the city will pay Storer and his firm $190 an hour for any additional litigation.
"We occasionally get questions like 'How much does the City Council make?' How much do I make? What's our benefits? What's our policies?" Fuhriman said of the city's frequent requests for public information.
That's exactly what's happened. Bryan Smith, another attorney, wanted to know how much Storer was making after the City Council's failed proposal to raise property taxes.
"It's easier for the City Council to raise taxes on people who can't afford it ... than it is to justify -- or than it is to look at what they got now and look at what they're spending," Smith said. "I asked them to review Mr. Storer's own contract, because in my opinion, his contract was way generous."
Smith filed a request for information.
He wanted billing statements from the city attorney dating back to 1980. Storer became city attorney in 1982.
While gathering the invoices, Storer's law firm, Holden Kidwell Hahn and Crapo, discovered that they were billing Idaho Falls $240 an hour. That's $50 more than what was stated in the contract, but they weren't billing frequently enough.
In the end, the city says Storer was actually shorted $800.
"I was not aware of those errors until I was advised by my firm ... last week," Storer said in his resignation letter.
Our calls to Storer's law firm were not returned.
Fuhriman said that the city will pay Storer the $800 he is owed.
Meanwhile, a special prosecutor has been appointed to investigate.
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