APS Office of General Counsel – Staff Positions Down – Total Spending up 10.6%

The legal activities for APS are accounted for in two separate departments – the Office of General Counsel (9253) and Legal Contingencies (9252). Why these two are not consolidated into one is a mystery. In any event, it is easier to analyze them as if they were one department.

At first glance, the legal team got the “10% cut memo” as the FY13 Proposed Budget reduces the total staff from 13 to 10 with the elimination of one Assistant General Counsel, one Legal Assistant and one Administrative Assistant. However, Salaries only come down by $95k – with the average salary in this group at around $113k plus benefits, the numbers don’t seem to add up (and the Employee Benefit number does not make sense either). Let see where this comes out after the budget team sharpens their pencils.

It also is clear that the department is looking to outsource more of the legal effort as the Professional Services line has increased by $605k (24%) as compared to the FY12 Amended Budget and $1.2 million (48%) as compared to the FY12 Approved Budget. So even with the staff cuts, the cost of this department has risen by 10.6% and 19.9% as compared to the FY12 Amended and FY12 Approved budgets, respectively.

I know that APS has had to deal with extensive legal issues surrounding the cheating scandal and the legal expenditures are necessary. Hopefully the scandal “hang-over” will wind its way through the system this year and outsourced legal expenses can be brought back into a reasonable range.

But, the department gets high marks for reducing internal staff. Superintendent Davis – please send them a bouquet of roses and a thanks from the taxpayers. Well done!

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