RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- As the City of Reno works to iron out its complicated budget issues, some members of the city council are questioning the skyrocketing legal fees involved.
News 4 has learned that more than $175,000 was spent on legal fees without prior approval of the City Council.
The council did approve $300,000 in legal fees for the law firm of Fisher and Phillips, which was hired to negotiate the city's union contracts. But when the City of Reno and the fire union ended up in court, those legal fees went up.
Reno City Manager Andrew Clinger is authorized to approve projects up to $50,000 without council approval. But in this case, the city paid out an extra $175,000 to the firm without getting council approval.
It is what has some City Council members upset. "It comes down to accountability. I think we need to look at legal, at HR, but my question is, why do we even have a city council if staff is just going to go ahead and do whatever they want?" said Councilwoman Hillary Schieve.
"We are required to live within the limits of the contract," Clinger responded. "Because of the timing of the lawsuit in a short amount of time, we didn't do that. Services were rendered to Fisher and Phillips, we owe them the money. So at the end of the day, the council is in a position we don't want to put them in. They are in a position where they have to approve this contract."
This issue will be on the council's agenda for Wednesday, and council members are expected to have some tough questions for Clinger about whether the city is following the law by approving projects like this without prior council approval.