Jim Johnson, the court monitor in the 2009 fair housing settlement between Westchester and the federal government, sent a letter this week to the judge overseeing the case asking for permission to use all of his annual $175,000 budget to pay for consultants.
He wants to hire the experts to “further the purposes of the Settlement,” particularly to develop a design toolkit for developers and towns to use in building affordable housing.
If the judge agrees, Johnson and his firm Debevoise & Plimpton would not get any compensation this fiscal year.
Though Johnson has been criticized for his high fees, the settlement caps the amount he can charge the county to $250,000 for the first two years of the settlement and $175,000 thereafter. The budget has covered less than 20 percent of the time and expenses he has incurred and the firm has picked up the $3.9 million in additional work over four years, he said in the letter.
When proposed earlier this year, Johnson said the toolkit will tap into existing ideas for affordable housing development and will use several Westchester developments as case studies of design solutions. It would also outline a process for getting community input during the design and taking into account a neighborhood’s need for community space.