City attorney shake up: Messer out, search begun for in-house lawyer

Mayor Ashton Hayward has made the decision not to renew the Messer Law Firm as the city attorney. Jim Messer’s contract expired on Dec. 14, and he will work month-to-month until a replacement is found and approved by the city council.

In an email dated Dec. 5, City COO Tamara Fountain told the city council that the mayor will not be hiring another law firm to serve as city attorney, but he intends to “bring the position in-house and will conduct a statewide search for a city attorney with a strong background in Florida law and municipal experience.”

The search process is expected to take no more than 90 days. Read MEMO – City Attorney.

Editor’s note: This is not unexpected. Messer has had little involvement in the city’s legal affairs for months. I don’t think the mayor or Jim thought Messer would be the city attorney beyond Hayward’s first term. The change might work out so that the council won’t see the need to hire its own legal counsel.