Councilman: Taxpayers on the hook for $132,000 over sign spat
NEW ROADS- A New Roads City Councilman says taxpayers in town are on the hook by his calculations for $132,000 in legal fees after New Roads Mayor Robert Myer refused to turn electricity on to a brand new digital billboard.
The owners of the billboard took the city to court, and a Judge ruled in favor of the owners. About two years ago, they received a permit to build the billboard on Hospital Road. After the $250,000 electronic billboard was complete there was a big problem. Despite having a permit, the city would not plug it in.
Ultimately, New Roads Mayor Robert Myer lost his fight, and three weeks ago a Judge ordered the sign to be plugged in.
"A lot of citizens in our city need to question why this useless spending of this much money for something that was not this big of a deal," Cy D'Aquila, attorney for the plaintiffs said.
Councilman Kurt Kellerman said he wanted to sit down and work out the issues before all of that money was charged to a private law firm.
"If we would have sat down with them before everyone got lawyers, we could have worked something out," Kellerman said. "That's my opinion...saved the taxpayers $132,000."
Kellerman believes that money could have been better spent outfitting the police department with new vehicles, or adding additional manpower on the streets.
Lynda Lorio is a resident of New Roads and knows all about sticking to a budget.
"I'm retired now, so every penny counts," Lorio said.
Although she gets that legal fees are expensive, she believes the city shouldn't have fought a trivial issue that proved to be so expensive.
"It's not a big deal," Lorio said. "It's not earth shaking, it's a sign and fighting it, there may have been another way to fight it then turning the electricity off and going to court."
Initially the law firm representing the City of New Roads said the sign violated the city's ordinances in place to preserve the character of the city.