Meridian City Council Refuses to Pay Attorney Bill

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Meridian, Miss. Michael Goggans has been Meridian's city attorney since July, a position that pays him $5000 a month, plus a $1000 secretarial allowance each month, for his legal services.

Ward 2 city councilman, Dustin Markham, says that his contract outlines what services are included for that monthly fee.

"There are three prongs in which he can bill," said Markham. "One of the prongs deals with routine legal work. One deals with litigation. And one deals with legal work that's not routine."

It was work Goggans said he did for the city outside of those three areas that led him to present the city council with a bill for $16,120 during last week's council meeting. That's on top of the $6000 paid out each month.

But the council says some of those services he was billing extra for were already part of his contract.

"One of the questions that was raised at the prior council meeting was where the routine legal work stopped, and where the additional billing would go into effect," said Markham. "Some of those (charges) weren't, in my opinion, and some of the other council members' opinions, legitimately placed on that bill and needed to be reviewed."

Mayor Percy Bland says that this bill is part of a learning process for everyone since there are three new council members and Goggans is new to municipal law. He said he believes that the council and attorney should be able to work together more efficiently in the future.

"There were some gray areas and they both communicated what they thought should be outside of the standard billing for the month," said Bland. "And I think they came to terms with that, and going forward I think they'll be on the same page with everything."

Goggans is expected to present the city council with a revised bill at the next meeting.