Town Puts Attorney on the Payroll

Jim Meggs

BLYTHEWOOD – With a 3-2 vote Monday night, Town Council created and filled the position of full-time town attorney, hiring Jim Meggs for $40,000 a year. Councilmen Bob Mangone and Bob Massa voted against the hire.

Meggs, who has served as the town’s attorney through his law firm, Callison, Tighe & Robinson, since 2011, said his firm was fully aware of the proposed transition from contracted attorney to full-time town employee. Meggs said he would provide his own computer, telephone and IT and would maintain his ability to practice law in S.C. at his own expense.

“I think folks have found me to be pretty reasonably available,” Meggs said. “This would be an at-will arrangement, so if you get tired of me give me the nod and I would give you the same courtesy.”

Mayor J. Michael Ross said he has discussed the transition with Meggs on “several occasions,” and that the move would save the town between $6,000 and $7,000 a year in legal expenses. But Mangone, who said he had no objections to Meggs specifically, said he disagreed with the process.

“I think the process is wrong,” Mangone said. “We’re creating a position within the Town and to do that we need to follow a different procedure and not just say we’re going to be changing money from one budget to another. So my objection is not to Mr. Meggs, but to the process. I would like to see a more open process. I would like to see us post the job and see what other candidates may be available.”

“(When) the town administrator left we had an open position,” Ross responded. “This position has never been open. This is just, really, a re-doing of the contract.”

Councilman Tom Utroska said that the only real difference between hiring Meggs outright and keeping his current contract in place would be to whom the Town cuts the checks. Under the prior agreement, he noted, the town paid Meggs’ law firm, who then paid Meggs. Now, he said, the town will simply be paying Meggs directly.

Councilman Bob Massa disagreed. “Since I have been critical of previous administrations that  hired employees similarly. despite liking Mr. Meggs and being pleased with his work, I could not approve his hiring.