Ellisville agrees to pay legal fees
By: Diane E. Samson
The Ellisville City Council on Feb. 6 voted to reimburse residents Julia Dolan, Vincent McGrath, Sandra McGrath, Mary Ann Dust and Patti Murphy $1,000 ($200 each) for attorney fees they incurred in the defense of a lawsuit filed by Councilmember Matt Pirrello (District 1) in 2012.
As previously reported, Pirrello had sued the city and the citizens after they filed a petition to have him and four other councilmembers recalled due to the Council’s position on the issue of tax increment financing for Walmart.
The suit, which Pirello won, challenged whether Article 9 of the Ellisville charter, which sets the rules for recalling elected officials, was constitutional.
Councilmembers Dawn Anglin (District 1), Pirrello, Linda Reel (District 2) and Roze Acup (District 3) voted for the legal fee reimbursement while Michelle Murray (District 3) and Troy Pieper (District 2) voted against it. Pieper cited concerns that the action could start a precedent of using taxpayer funds to reimburse private citizens.
Pirrello had earlier been reimbursed for his attorney fees pursuant to the lawsuit.
Previously, Mayor Adam Paul had given the five citizens $500 out of his own pocket to help with attorney fees as several were on fixed incomes, he said.
The citizens pledged to repay Paul.
Pirrello, who previously had opposed reimbursing the citizens, was satisfied with the Council’s vote and said he was happy to mend some fences.
“I’d like to thank the Council for voting to reimburse us,” he said. “I hope the residents and the Council can work together in the future.”