Town Taps Meggs for Interim Administrator

Jim Meggs

BLYTHEWOOD – Town Council voted unanimously after a very short executive meeting at a special called meeting on Monday night to hire the Town’s attorney, Jim Meggs, to replace former Town Administrator John Perry on an interim basis. Meggs will now serve the Town as both the Town Attorney and as a part-time Interim Town Administrator until a permanent replacement is hired, which Mayor J. Michael Ross said could take up to six months.

Meggs will earn almost $11,000 per month for the two part time positions. He currently earns approximately $4,500 per month or $54,000 annually as a part-time attorney for the Town. He will earn an additional $6,450 per month for 20 hours per week in his new capacity as Interim Town Administrator. Perry was paid $115,000 annually as Town Administrator. Ross said Meggs, in his Interim Administrator position, will keep morning office hours Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Town Hall unless he has a conflict with his work at Callison Tighe, the law firm in Columbia where he practices law.

Although The Voice reported in December that Meggs would likely be hired by Council as the interim replacement for Perry, no one on Council nor the Mayor has spoken publicly regarding Meggs’ hiring nor has there been any explanation to the public as to Meggs’ qualifications or how (and whether) he plans to move forward with Perry’s agenda for the Town. A town government official told The Voice prior to Monday night’s meeting that Council had not seriously sought other candidates for the position. The mayor confirmed this on Tuesday morning following the Council meeting.

After Council hired Meggs as the Interim Administrator, Councilman Bob Mangone asked Meggs, “In the chance there might be a legal opinion required to clarify a point that you make while Interim Town Administrator, how would that be handled?”

Without answering that question directly, Meggs said, “If there were some indication that legal advice that I had rendered in some way conflicted with or invoked some conflict with the administration’s function or goal, keep in mind that in Blythewood, the chief executive officer is the mayor and in this temporary arrangement, with the two hats I’m wearing, I would be the mayor’s helper in his executive capacity. But if there were any semblance of conflict then we would send that question out to another attorney, not in my law firm, but a seasoned municipal attorney that would give the council a second opinion.”

Meggs, who has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, was reported to have expressed an interest in working as a public administrator prior to the departure of Perry. Meggs has been a member of Callison Tighe law firm since 2007. According to the firm’s website, Meggs previously practiced municipal law in the public sector, including 17 years as the city attorney for the City of Columbia.

Following the Dec. 16 Town Council meeting, when the Mayor and Town Council voted unanimously to accept John Perry’s resignation, Ross was asked by The Voice if Meggs was being considered for the Interim Administrator’s position, and Ross confirmed that he was. While the Town government has not offered any public explanation as to why Perry resigned or was asked to resign, sources in the government told The Voice that Perry’s resignation was forced, stemming from an ongoing employment related conflict between Perry and a Town Hall employee. Perry’s separation agreement with the Town, prepared by an attorney in Meggs’ law firm who specializes in labor and employment, restricts Perry from making any comment as to why he left the Town’s employ. Perry, who was hired in January 2008 by former Mayor Keith Bailey, did not have an employment contract with the Town.

Ross told The Voice in an earlier interview that Council will appoint a seven- to eight-member search committee at the Jan. 27 Council meeting to find a permanent replacement for Perry. Asked if Meggs will become the permanent replacement for Perry, Ross said that would be up to the search committee.