Downingtown retains Lamb McErlane for solicitor services

Temporary solicitor Mark P. Thompson approved to take position permanently

By Kyle CarrozzaStaff Writer, The Times


Battalion Chief Joel Swisher offers insight to the Downingtown Borough Council on the structure of the fire department during Wednesday nights meeting.

DOWNINGTOWN – Borough council voted to retain Chester County powerhouse law firm Lamb McErlane PC to provide solicitor services at Wednesday night’s meeting. The decision keeps Solicitor Mark P. Thompson on board after last year’s decision to use his services temporarily.

In a 4-1 decision, councilor Ann Feldman provided the only dissenting vote, insisting that more research was needed to come to a decision.

She said that only looking at résumés was not enough and requested that council conduct interviews. She pointed out that council conducts interviews to approve members on borough commissions, and the appointment of a solicitor is a much more costly decision.

Council President Anthony Gazzerro said that he based his decision off of seeing the work that the firm has done in other municipalities.

Mayor Josh Maxwell noted that Lamb McErlane is about 25% more expensive than other options presented in the borough’s request for quotes. He said that Lamb McErlane does good work, but considering the costs, the borough might be better off going for a smaller firm.

Gazzerro said that Lamb McErlane works more efficiently, so they end up charging less overall.

Borough also discussed an ordinance to restructure the leadership of the fire department that will allow borough council to appoint a full time fire chief.

Coming into Wednesday’s meeting, the ordinance also called for the battalion chief to take control of the department in the absence of the fire chief, but council decided to refrain from passing the ordinance to revise this policy.

Battalion Chief Joel Swisher said that his position requires a different skill set from that of a full fire chief. He recommended that the assistant fire chief take over in the absence of the fire chief. Council said that the language regarding the fire chief will be removed before voting on the ordinance again.

Feldman suggested that the ordinance include a provision to allow the fire department to select candidates for chief, and then council would vote to select one of those candidates. Gazzerro said that the fire department has had recent internal problems and therefore insisted that council take charge of the selection.

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