Lancaster city is going to try having an in-house solicitor, Mayor Danene Sorace said.
From this month through the end of the year, solicitor Barry Handwerger will work at City Hall, and will serve the city exclusively, Sorace told City Council.
The goal is to “expedite access to legal advice,” develop and maintain a consistent approach to legal matters and improve turnaround time, the mayor said.
Lancaster has been the only city its size in Pennsylvania without in-house legal staff. Given the increasing complexity of the city’s legal affairs — in particular, its dealings with state and federal agencies in connection with the consent decree governing its stormwater management — it makes sense to try this new arrangement, Sorace said.
“The intent is also to save money,” she said.
Over the past three years, the city has paid Handwerger’s firm — Zimmerman, Pfannebecker, Nuffort & Albert — an average of $28,780 a month, or just over $1 million in all, according to Sorace.
Under the new arrangement, the city will pay the firm a flat rate of $23,000 a month for Handwerger's services.
The city administration will evaluate the results at the end of the year, and decide how it wants to proceed, Sorace said.