The city has been without a solicitor since last December when Peter Ruggiero left the post.
That hasn’t been a problem, says Mayor Joseph Solomon.
In an interview last week, Solomon pointed out that he passed the Rhode Island Bar in 1982, and having practiced for so many years he knows the state’s legal community. He said that gives him the ability to pick who he feels is best qualified to represent the city depending on the matter.
“We retain attorneys based on the issues before us,” he said.
Solomon said he reaches “an agreed upon price” with the attorneys and that the practice of selecting legal representation depending on the need has “cost substantially less than those of the past.”
Asked what those saving amount to and what the city is paying, Solomon said, “I don’t want to bid against myself.”
“I take pride in bringing the most effectiveness as possible,” he said. “The frugal approach.” He didn’t provide an amount of savings.
That doesn’t mean the city will be without a solicitor. Solomon said he’s in no rush to fill the post, but plans to do so.
In an interview Wednesday, Solomon elaborated. He said his time could be better spent.
“However, I could utilize that time in other ways as mayor of the city. So I am pursuing the retaining of a solicitor. I have no one in mind at this time. I haven’t interviewed.”
He dismissed discussion of salary, saying that would be covered under “professional services” in the budget. The council approved a $700,000 budget for professional services, a 75 percent increase from the current $400,000 budget.
“Everyone that I have brought onto this administration, whether it be a director’s position or a fire chief or police chief, nobody ever, ever brought up the money. Which tells me they have the passion in their heart to do the job and they have the qualifications, that’s what I’m looking at. As long as they possess that and they share the ideals and my views – you’re not going to agree with me on everything. I don’t think anyone agrees with everyone on everything. But if we’re all headed in the same direction, it makes like a little more productive for the city and the taxpayers,” he said.
Also included in the budget is $50,000 for an executive assistant to the mayor, a new position.
Solomon sees the assistant as lightening the workload of his staff.
He didn’t spell out specifics of the job or say whether he has someone in mind for the post.
“We’re on overdrive,” Solomon said of himself and his staff. While he said the staff is doing a good job, they run the risk of burnout. The added position, he said, would lessen the stress and enable improved performance.
Asked if he planned to post the position, Solomon said he would be interviewing for the job.