At the Feb. 9 Cheshire Town Council meeting, members voted to appoint Jeffery Donofrio from the law firm of Ciulla & Donofrio, LLP, in North Haven, as the new Town Attorney.
Over the past two months, the Cheshire Town Council has held multiple special meetings in executive sessions in order to interview and discuss candidates for the position. Town officials have been in the market to renegotiate the current legal services contract to see if they could find any areas for savings.
Last year, the Town put out a request for proposal (RFP) for all legal services, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the search was put on hold. The Town is currently represented by Al Smith, from Murtha Cullina, LLP, of New Haven, and has been since 2014. Prior to Smith, Dwight Johnson was the Town Attorney.
“Because of everything that we had to focus on this year, it definitely wasn’t a huge priority to address,” mentioned Town Manager Sean Kimball. “But now the Council is going through the process of seeing what’s out there.”
Chairman Rob Oris expressed his support for the new appointment.
“The Town Council received numerous excellent responses and options and the process was thorough and was lead by the Planning Committee of the Town Council,” he began. “I believe attorney Donofrio is an excellent fit for Cheshire and I am sure he and his firm will provide Cheshire with top-notch legal services at a cost-effective rate. I sincerely thank our current attorney, Al Smith, and all his associates, for their years of service to Cheshire.”
Donofrio is currently the town attorney for both Berlin and North Haven, and has been practicing commercial litigation in Connecticut since 1990.
Donofrio’s contract was negotiated to $9,250 per month, whereas Smith’s contract was $21,000 per month, thus saving the town $11,750 per month.
The two Democratic Council members — Peter Talbot and Jim Jinks — were the only members to vote against the move.
“I will be voting against this motion, not because of anything against Ciulla & Donofrio law firm, which does outstanding work in North Haven,” he said, “but because I just don’t feel we need to change Town Attorneys at this time.”
Jinks agreed, stating that he feels as if the firm may not be able to handle “the generation of work from Cheshire.” However, he did state his belief that Donofrio will do a good job for the Town.
The motion passed 7-2.
Donofrio is expected to take over the role of Town Attorney on April 1.