Council members cited economic reasons for the change.
According to Mayor Pasquale Menna, O’Hern will be paid a $35,000 retainer the same amount paid last year to Pringle, Quinn Anzano for attending council meetings, drafting laws and resolutions, and answering calls from elected officials. The hourly rate paid for non-retainer work, such as litigation and handling tax appeals, drops to $125, from the $135 paid to Pringle.
Councilman Mike DuPont, who heads the borough finance committee, said an analysis of projected savings was prepared, though he did not have the figures handy Monday morning.
Both DuPont and Councilwoman Sharon Lee cited economics as the driver in the change. But DuPont noted that it might also head off future instances in which the town’s attorney might be required to recuse himself, forcing the borough to bring in outside counsel.
In early 2009, the Pringle firm had to step away from a lawsuit over the former borough hall at 51 Monmouth Street. Likewise, Pringle recused his firm from handling a tax appeal on the Verizon switching station on Broad Street over a potential conflict brought to light by redbankgreen in 2007.
“Economics came into play, as well as the removal of any conflicts,” said DuPont.
He added that O’Hern has done legal work in connection with redevelopment efforts in Asbury Park, and “Red Bank needs to get some of its groove back. I’m hoping we’re going to see some development and redevelopment work this year.”
At Saturday’s reorganization of the borough government, O’Hern said it was “an honor and a pleasure” to step into the role of attorney where he’d grown up and his late father had served as mayor in 1966 and again from 1969 to 1978,
O’Hern is a graduate of Red Bank Regional and Fairfield University, with a BA in economics, and earned a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh. He settled in Little Silver in 1996, where he lives with his wife and two daughters.
O’Hern recently formed a partnership with Sean Byrnes, with whom he grew up in Red Bank. In November, Byrnes lost a bid for re-election as a committeeman in Middletown. They have their offices on Leroy Place.