GARDINER — Councilors at tonight’s meeting plan to decide whether to stay with the same firm that provides the city with legal services.

City Solicitor Erik Stumfelt, who’s been at the job since 2001, abruptly resigned from Eaton Peabody last week and took a job with Rudman Winchell, a Bangor law firm.

Both firms want Gardiner’s business, City Manager Scott Morelli said.

“Although Erik has provided us with very good advice over the years, I am recommending we remain with Eaton Peabody,” Morelli said Tuesday. “They are a good firm featuring several attorneys with whom we have established relationships.”

In a recent letter to Morelli, Daniel McKay, president of Eaton Peabody, said that Stumfelt left without prior notice, so there was no opportunity to plan for an orderly transition of his clients.

“Due to the unique way in which city attorney status is handled under the city’s charter, it will be necessary for the city council to vote to change the designation of city attorney,” McKay said.

McKay suggested the city stick with Eaton Peabody, which would appoint lawyer Jonathan Pottle to handle the city’s general representation.

Morelli said the city is planning to solicit bids for legal services within the next year as part of a larger effort for all contracted services “to ensure we’re paying the market rate and getting the best service possible.”

Stumfelt has requested that the city continue with him and his new firm, but Morelli said he is recommending the council continue with Eaton Peabody and assign Jonathan Pottle as the new city solicitor.

Morelli said the firm has given assurances that it will not charge the city extra for Pottle to get up to speed on issues.

Eaton Peabody will be represented at tonight’s meeting, which scheduled for 7 p.m. at City Hall.

An executive session is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. to discuss new developments in the Webber Oil Co. and contaminated waterfront soil issue.

In 2010, tainted soil was removed from the waterfront park of a former oil storage area behind Water Street.

The city paid $50,000 to remove the first contaminated material, found in June, to a facility licensed and approved by the Department of Environmental Protection to accept such waste, and is now trying to recoup the money it spent removing the soil.

A second, larger batch was found at the waterfront park a month later.

Councilors also will hear the second reading of the tax increment financing agreement for a proposed natural gas pipeline. The council unanimously approved the tax break deal at their last meeting but included a stipulation that the gas pipeline be connected to Libby Hill business park.

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]

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