Costly AffairBy NIKKI ROWELL,
Expenses associated with incorporation funded by donations.
Ongoing efforts to incorporate Gluckstadt have come with a price tag. Multiple trials, appeals, expert witnesses and more have racked up some hefty fees.
Legal expenses alone, from 2015 through the end of May, have reached a whopping $500,000, according to attorney John Scanlon, who represents the incorporation effort.
Since appeals have been filed following the court’s ruling to allow Gluckstadt to incorporate, they could be looking at $100,000 or more in expenses for upcoming litigation, according to appointed Gluckstadt mayor Walter Morrison.
But since Gluckstadt is still tied up in litigation and not officially a city, where is the money coming from to pay these expenses?
The simple answer: donations.
Residents of Gluckstadt have not only invested their time and energy by knocking on doors and getting the signatures to file for incorporation, they have also invested their money to see the case through.
Every penny in the Citizens for Gluckstadt bank account was given by local residents and businesses.
They officially filed for incorporation on January 31, 2017. Since then, individuals and approximately 15 business partners have helped fund the incorporation effort.
Approximately $16,850 has come from corporate donations and $8,244 from others.
Not all of the individual donations have been residents from the area seeking to incorporate either. According to posts on the Citizens for Gluckstadt Facebook account, some residents of surrounding cities have given to the cause as well.
Also, local business owner Ron Hutchinson, who appealed the ruling on the case, has donated to the Citizens for Gluckstadt fund before.
“The bills are enormous, but the donated money has contributed toward the effort,” Morrison said.
They have utilized an account with Bankplus and a PayPal account to collect donations.
“These types of things are expensive,” Scanlon said of the case. “Litigation costs a lot of money.”
A key component of the trial, the expert witness who aided the incorporation effort by creating a hypothetical budget and maps to identifying potential tax revenue, also came with a substantial price tag.
The lawyers have put in a lot of work over the past several years, for what Scanlon called an “expensive process.”
Efforts are still ongoing and even after the case is complete, Scanlon said fundraising efforts will still continue.
“The fundraising effort on behalf of incorporators will still be moving forward,” he said. “Litigation of this nature, two separate trials, multiple parties involved and multiple attorneys. All totaled from our side was in the neighborhood of $500,000, going back to 2015.”
As for the cost of the upcoming appeal process, Scanlon said it is difficult to pin down an exact number, as there is no way of knowing how long the case could take.
Right now, he said they could be looking at one to two years or more.
However, he said it is important to note that this case will strictly be determining if the chancellor did anything to abuse his discretion as a judge.
“We feel good about our chances on appeal,” he said. “And we hope to have a long professional relationship with Gluckstadt for many years to come.”
Scanlon said he believes the community support through donations comes from the residents’ belief in the municipal services that the incorporators are promising to deliver and their sense of community.
Fees associated with litigation have not been the only expenses the donations will help address.
Citizens for Gluckstadt’s other expenses include approximately $1,808 for advertising, bank fees and business registration; $27,490 for contract services; $4,607 for operations, legal notices and supplies; and $975 for their website and domain host.
Today, Bumpers of Gluckstadt is hosting a profit share for the incorporation effort. For June 20 only, the restaurant will donate 20 percent of its sales to help with the legal cost of incorporation.
The fundraising account at any Bankplus is “Citizens for Gluckstadt.” For more information about Gluckstadt donations, visit Gluckstadt.net/how-to-help.