By Dan Moffett

For the first time in its 43-year history, the town of Briny Breezes has a lawyer who isn’t named Skrandel.
7960799487?profile=originalThe Town Council on June 28 unanimously approved hiring Keith Davis of the West Palm Beach law firm of Davis & Ashton to replace John Skrandel as town attorney.
Skrandel held the position for five years, succeeding his father, Jerome, after his death in 2013. Jerome Skrandel was at the table during Briny’s founding, signing on as the town’s attorney in 1975 after previously representing the corporation.
Davis adds the town to a growing list of municipal clients his firm represents, including Briny’s neighbor to the north Manalapan and Atlantis, Tequesta, Mangonia Park, Palm Beach Shores and Royal Palm Beach.
“I’m very proud of our reputation,” Davis told the council during interviews at a June 14 special meeting. “Other attorneys reach out to us.”
Davis will earn $165 an hour ($185 an hour for litigation) as Briny’s attorney, a rate that is $20 less than Skrandel’s. Billing had become an issue for some residents in recent months, particularly among those on the corporate board. Critics complained that Skrandel’s fees were too high and that the council was assigning him too much work — duties that could be handled more economically by an administrator.
Since council members brought in Dale Sugerman as town manager in January, legal expenses have fallen sharply. Briny was the only municipal client for Skrandel, a solo practitioner who has represented several condominium groups.
“There are no hard feelings,” he told the council. “This is just something that lawyers go through. I’ve been through this before with HOAs.”
The council interviewed four finalists for the position. Council President Sue Thaler and members Chick Behringer and Christina Adams ranked Davis first. Alderwoman Kathy Gross favored Nason Yeager, a Palm Beach Gardens firm. Alderman Bill Birch was absent for the interviews but voted for hiring Davis at the council’s regular meeting. Skrandel finished third in the rankings.
Thaler thanked Skrandel for his service, which goes back decades to when he was assisting his father. He received a round of applause from residents at the meeting. Among Skrandel’s last duties was reviewing the council’s agreement with his successor.
“I know I’m only three votes from getting fired,” a smiling Davis said about his new job.
In other business, Sugerman had good news for the council during its June 26 budget workshop. The early numbers for fiscal year 2018-19 suggest that the town won’t have problems balancing its budget.
An expected increase in taxable property values of roughly 10 percent gives a boost to the revenue side. Sugerman says the town has cut expenses significantly — including an estimated 35 percent decline in legal services and a lower number for Town Hall operating expenses.
Briny must pay 4 percent more to Boynton Beach for fire-rescue services and roughly the same increase for Boynton police, as contracts require. The preliminary budget is premised on the town again setting the millage rate at the statutory maximum of $10 per $1,000 of taxable property value.

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