At an emergency meeting Monday, interim City Attorney Jim Wilson told City of St Augustine Beach commissioners that there are more applicants interested in bidding for his old job — good news on the heals of Lonnie Groot unexpectedly altering a significant condition of his contract that the commission does not find acceptable. Wilson is continuing to work as city attorney with his colleagues at Coquina Law Firm acting as backup attorneys.
Historic City News learned that the commission is continuing its search for a new city attorney after contract negotiations with their selected candidate fell through. Although Groot was chosen out of five applicants interviewed during a special city commission meeting last month, the Daytona Beach-based law firm member changed one of the Commission’s requests to bill the firm at a flat rate of $6,000 for 40 hours of work per month. Instead, Paul, Elkind, Branz and Paul asked to change the number of flat rate hours to 35 per month. Additional work would be billed at $175 per hour.
“It seems like they’re kind of backtracking on what they said they were going to agree to by putting a limit on the hours,” Commissioner Undine George, herself an attorney, said during the Regular City Commission meeting on Monday, February 3, 2020, at 6:00 p.m. “I’m a little disappointed that when the contract comes back, they’ve modified that particular term.”
In light of this new twist, Wilson has suggested that the Commission send out tentative contracts and invite the finalists in for interviewing before their March 2 regular Commission meeting, starting at 5:00 p.m. in the meeting room of City Hall.
“If there’s going to be a hiccup in the contract, we’ll know the hiccup before the contract gets executed, and those people will be out of the running,” Wilson told commissioners. “In the end, whoever you decide to pick, you’ll pick knowing they’ve already agreed to the contract terms.”