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Bristol’s Legal Expenses On the Rise

By Thomas P. Caldwell

BRISTOL — As the town awaits the outcome of a lawsuit challenging the March elections, selectmen are keeping a close eye on the burgeoning legal expense line in the Bristol budget.

While the town’s biggest legal expense remains its participation in efforts to force the Northern Pass hydroelectric transmission lines underground — $42,388.58 as of the end of May — its second-largest expenditure has been its defense in the election lawsuit brought by selectman candidate and former budget committee member John Sellers. As of May, the town had been billed $12,892.71 for its defense in the case, which went to a final hearing several weeks ago. The judge has not yet issued a decision, and the town has not received a final bill from its attorney.

A dispute with residents on Hemlock Brook Road has cost the town $2,595.10 in legal expenses, and its utility assessment litigation with NNET, Fairpoint, and Eversource has cost $814.90 as of the end of May.

General legal expenses, which cover document reviews and questions that come up during the course of the year, amounted to $16,408.56 as of that May billing.

Sellers’ lawsuit charges irregularities with the handling of absentee ballots and a flaw in listing open positions on the budget committee, due to a typographical error on last year’s town report.

27 July 2017

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