- Dispute Over $5 Municipal Meeting CD Costs Township $17K, All But $4.04 for Attorney’s Fees
Dispute Over $5 Municipal Meeting CD Costs Township $17K, All But $4.04 for Attorney’s Fees
Posted Dec 23, 2010 12:16 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
Charged a $5 fee for a compact disc recording of a 2008 municipal meeting in Bridgewater, N.J., resident Tom Coulter thought the fee, which is set by a municipal ordinance, was excessive.
So he complained to the New Jersey Government Records Council, which agreed. The township now offers a CD meeting recording for 97 cents, including a plastic sleeve, reports the Courier News.
Meanwhile, the dispute cost the township more than $17,000--$14,000 for its own legal fees, $3,500 for Coulter's legal fees and a $4.04 refund concerning the $5 he paid for the CD that started the dispute.
The township's attorney, Alan Grant of Mauro Savo Camerino Grant & Schalk, said Coulter drove up legal costs substantially by refusing to settle, early in the process, as Bridgewater offered to do.
It appears that Coulter was looking for vindication rather than a $4.04 refund, according to the newspaper:
In an e-mail announcing the ruling, he contended that the David-and-Goliath saga illustrates a "lack of common sense in government" and "the kind of unmitigated dysfunction that pervades the Township government" and said he had to file the public records complaint to get the township's attention concerning excessive costs he had complained about since 2007.