MILTON — The city council will search for a new city attorney after discussion at Thursday’s executive committee meeting.
An item on the June 22 meeting’s agenda was to approve a new hourly rate for Lindsay & Lindsay, the law firm used by the city of Milton. Heather Lindsay, an attorney with the firm, serves as the city’s designated attorney. She was absent from the meeting.
The request was to raise the hourly rate for services from $175 to $195. Before the item could be voted on and approved by the committee, Councilman Alan Lowery made a suggestion.
Lowery said that since the firm has been working for the city for approximately 40 years, it may be time to look for someone else. Lowery recommended asking for bids from other firms to see if there is anyone offering a cheaper rate.
“I have (nothing) against Heather,” Lowery said. “I’m just saying, maybe we should see if anyone else is interested.”
Councilwoman Peggi Smith agreed and said she liked Lowery’s idea; however, not every council member shared the sentiment.
Councilwoman Sharon Holley said that the city might end up hurting themselves by requesting a bid; if they end up picking Lindsay & Lindsay again, the firm could raise their rates. According to Holley, the average hourly rate for an attorney is currently $250.
Councilwoman Pat Lunsford also said this would be a mistake because, in her view, Heather is smart, great at her job and knows the history of the town.
According to Brian Watkins, the city manager, the city attorney is contracted for a year; the contract is renewable and goes on until one party decides they don’t want to be a part of the contract anymore. Watkins said the council needs to give at least a 30-day notice before rebidding for a new firm.
Although some council members disagreed, Lowery made a motion to rebid for a new city attorney; Smith seconded the motion, and the motion passed with Lunsford, Holley and Mary Ellen Johnson opposed.
Councilwoman Ashley Lay was absent from the meeting, and Mayor Wesley Meiss participated in the vote. The initial item of approving the law firm’s new hourly rate was moved to the next executive committee meeting.