YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown City Council approved an ordinance at Wednesday’s meeting to provide additional funding for the city’s law department.

Council voted unanimously to approve $150,000 in additional funds to help cover outside legal counsel fees. The legal counsel is for litigations and insurance cases.

In total, the law department will be appropriated $280,000 for the 2022 calendar year.

In September, council learned that the law department had already spent most of its money earmarked for outside law firms and still had tens of thousands of dollars in outstanding legal bills that need to be paid before the end of 2022.

According to the Mahoning County Court View government website, Youngstown currently has 33 open civil cases in which the city is listed as the defendant.

For years, the law department has routinely used outside firms to handle more complicated issues such as union contract negotiations and disputes with business developers.

First Ward Councilman Julius Oliver said some of the litigations come from demolitions in the city and he hopes that the language in the city’s ordinances for demolitions can be changed soon.

“My goal is to work with the supervisor, Mike Durkin, as well as the law department to be able to change that legislation. The city’s goal is protecting itself as well as protecting the rights of the property owners, and that’s my ultimate goal,” Oliver said.

Oliver agreed that the law department was in need of the extra funds and suggested the idea of hiring an attorney in the law department to eliminate the need for outside counsel.

During the council meeting, Third Ward Councilwoman Samantha Turner made a comment that she would like to see better planning next year to try and account for the necessary funds in the beginning of the year.

First News reached out to Law Director Jeff Limbian on council’s decision to increase the funding, but he did not wish to comment.