Boynton Beach: CRA enlists new legal firm

By Jane Smith


The Boynton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency did not skip a beat when Ken Spillias stepped aside as its attorney.
At its February meeting, Spillias sat in the audience and another law firm colleague, Tara Duhy, took his place on the dais next to the agency’s executive director.
“We knew that he (Spillias) was going to retire, it just came more quickly than we thought,” said Duhy, a partner with the Lewis, Longman & Walker law firm in West Palm Beach.
A University of Colorado law school graduate, she has been with the firm since 2005. She has worked with developers, most recently the Minto Communities’ project planned for western Palm Beach County.
“But I wouldn’t work on any development in Boynton Beach,” she said.
The switch was needed after Spillias was appointed as the Ocean Ridge town attorney, a staff position where his annual salary will be $90,000 and another $16,000 in benefits. He will start the full-time job March 1. He told the town he will retire in 2016.
Spillias had served as the Ocean Ridge town attorney for 15 years on a contract basis. Another plus from working for the town is his enrollment in the Florida retirement system. He served as a Palm Beach County commissioner in the 1980s and needs to work only six more months under the state pension plan to be fully vested in it with six years’ employment.
With the Boynton Beach agency, the law firm is an at-will employee, working without a contract, Spillias said at the end of the February meeting.
“I always felt that is the best way to do it,” he said. “If you are not happy with our legal counsel, you always have the right to change.”
The agency pays the firm a $4,000 monthly retainer to attend the meetings and review the agenda items. Anything above that, the agency will pay $230 per hour for a partner’s work.

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