How Did a Consultant Bill Atlantic City $70,000?

by | May 7, 2015

By Amy S. Rosenberg

Kevyn Orr, the former Detroit emergency manager tapped by Gov. Christie to advise Atlantic City, billed the state at a rate of $950 per hour, with an available 25 percent discount, for a total of about $70,000 for three months' work, the state said Wednesday.

Orr was appointed Jan. 22 as general counsel to Kevin Lavin, who continues to serve in a daily capacity as Atlantic City's emergency manager at an annual salary of $135,000.

Orr, who steered Detroit through its bankruptcy, left the job at the end of April to return to his law firm, Jones Day in Washington.

The discounted rate of $712.50 was a condition of timely payment under the New Jersey Prompt Payment Act. His contract called for no more than 16 hours of work per week.

The state did not break down the compensation, but Orr's total compensation was about $70,000, according to state officials.

At the discounted rate, that works out to about seven hours a week billed. Orr told reporters in Lansing, Mich., recently that he spent much of the last three months at home with his children in the Washington area.

The contract described his job as "Expert," and required him to prepare "expert reports" and participate in conferences related to Atlantic City and Lavin's work.

The state had declined to release his hourly rate and total compensation until Wednesday.

Orr's appointment was interpreted by some to mean that Atlantic City might be headed for a Detroit-style bankruptcy, causing the city's credit rating to plummet. But although debt restructuring is being pursued, bankruptcy at this point is not considered likely.

Orr's agreement with the state, released by the state Attorney General's Office late Wednesday after multiple public records requests, also calls for him to be reimbursed for mileage, copying, telephone, and other expenses, but not meals.

Atlantic City's mayor, Don Guardian, is paid $103,000 per year.

Also released Wednesday was the rate to be paid to retired U.S.

Bankruptcy Judge Donald Steckroth, who was hired to be a mediator as Atlantic City seeks to restructure its crushing debt in the wake of four casino closings, including about $88 million owed to the Borgata from tax appeals.

He will be paid $425 an hour, a rate described in his agreement as "not your standard hourly rate" and "a significant courtesy reduction." The state has also hired Ernst & Young to do accounting work related to Atlantic City's crisis for a total of $250,000.

(c)2015 The Philadelphia Inquirer