Mission Chateau actions push Prairie Village legal expenses $266K over budget

Bruised feelings in the community over the outcome of the Mission Chateau proposal have led to controversy over appointments to the Prairie Village Planning Commission.

The controversial Mission Chateau senior living community proposal approved by a single vote by the Prairie Village city council in January and currently challenged in court has burst the city’s legal budget for 2014.

On Monday, the Prairie Village city council will be asked to approve a measure transferring $265,762.72 in contingency funds to pay for legal services beyond what the city had planned for this year.

In August 2013, the city approved a 2014 budget that included $160,000 for contracted legal services. The actual cost of legal expenses in 2014 ended up being $425,762.79. Of that, $275,771.56 were related to the Mission Chateau proposal — including preparations for the Special Use Permit vote and the case brought against the city by a group of area homeowners.

While the city has exceeded its budgeted legal expenses four of the past six years, the 2014 costs are notable for the degree to which they surpassed the budgeted amount. The $249,735 spent in 2013 was 2.17 times the budgeted amount of $115,000. This year, actual legal expenses were 2.67 times as much as was budgeted.

Mission Chateau-related services were the single largest line item in this year’s legal spending by a wide margin. The next largest category was $51,039.66 for attendance at city council meetings and research requested by the council and mayor.

Prairie Village spent $5,021 for legal expenses related to the Village Shops and Corinth Square Community Improvement Districts; $1,941.50 for services related to councilor David Morrison’s ethics violation case; and $5,226 related to the city’s investigation into the purchase of part of the Homestead site.

The council budgeted $200,000 for legal services in 2015 as part of the budgeting process it wrapped up this August.

See a full summary of the city’s 2014 legal expenses below: