WESTBROOK — Westbrook City Councilor Brendan Rielly will be part of the full city budget vetting process this cycle for the first time in 15 years.

For the last decade and a half, Rielly has participated in budget deliberations, but recused himself when the final vote came, citing a conflict of interest. He is a law partner in Jensen Baird Gardner & Henry, the city’s legal counsel, but in his role there he is not involved in providing services to the city.

At the initial budget review session March 30, councilors denied Rielly’s motion to recuse himself, determining there was no conflict of interest. In the past, Rielly had stepped down when the Finance Committee discussed the city’s legal services budget and because the final budget vote includes an item on how much to pay his firm, so Rielly recused himself from that vote as well.

Councilor Mike Foley said the fact that Rielly works for the city’s law firm has always been disclosed and out in the open and has not been a concern.

“If it had been a concern, Councilor Rielly may have chosen not to serve in years past,” Foley said.

The change in Rielly’s participation comes in the wake a legal opinion from Moncure & Barnicle, of Topsham, which stated that if Rielly recuses himself, he shouldn’t participate in any of the process.

Council President Gary Rairdon said he asked for the additional opinion because people have, over the years, approached him with concerns about Rielly’s level of participation in the process.

“I just wanted some clarity,” Rairdon said.

“I think he should participate in the discussion, as well as the final vote. That is the way I have always felt. I thought it was very strange, he would participate and then not vote. So to me, it should be all or nothing,” said former City Councilor Lynda Adams.

Michael Kelley can be reached at 780-9106 or [email protected] or on Twitter @mkelleynews


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