Hiring lawyers for councillors during the Ontario ombudsman's investigation into a meeting at Billy T's cost the city $97,148.

Mayor Joe Fontana and six London councillors were at a lunch at Billy T's Tap and Grill in February 2013. Those at the restaurant included: Bud Polhill, Joe Swan, Stephen Orser, Dale Henderson, Paul Van Meerbergen and Sandy White.

Numerous complaints about the meeting led to an investigation by Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin.

During that investigation, each of the London politicians present at the meeting was interviewed twice by the ombudsman's team.

In a report released in October 2013, the Ontario ombudsman called the gathering an improper closed meeting and said the evidence clearly points to a deliberate attempt “to conduct business under the guise of a social gathering.”

The legal costs were confirmed on Thursday, but the decision to cover the legal fees was made by council back in June 2013.

Councillor Paul Hubert did not attend the meeting at Billy T's and opposed indemnification.

"I think if they were paying it themselves they may not have even retained council because it was very clear to them that there was no need to retain council."

That was echoed a Tweet from Marin's @Ont_Ombudsman account Thursday that read "I told #Ldont council they didnt need lawyers for #OpenMtgs investigation."

Toronto-based lawyers were first called to sit in during the second round of interviews held in June.

Later a written response was prepared challenging many of the ombudsman's findings. They also travelled from Toronto to attend the ombudsman's media conference when his report was released.

Councillor Harold Usher did not attend Billy T's but next week he'll chair the committee receiving the expense report.

"These things are passed by a majority of council with a majority then we have to abide by it," he says.

Hubert says with the city facing tough budget cuts to balance the budget the legal bill is a disappointing use of almost $100,000.

"My mind immediately goes to how that $97,000 could have been used to meet the needs brought forward to council."

Many Londoners are demanding the mayor and councillors who met illegally repay the bill.

If you divide the bill evenly between the seven members of council who took part in the illegal meeting, it works out to abuot $13,800 each.

Fontana was out of town travelling Thursday and unavailable to comment.