Houston & Peach

Byron looks toward interim and future city attorneys

The City Council has appointed Macon attorney Tom Richardson as interim city attorney.

The appointment comes as Joan Harris, who has served as city attorney for well over a decade on a contract basis, has decided to leave the position.

Councilman Michael Chidester brought the matter before the council and said Harris plans to begin curtailing her practice as she moves toward retirement. Harris also practices law in Macon

The council set July 1 as a date for Richardson to start.

As well as appointing Richardson during its regular June meeting Monday, the council heard the first reading of an ordinance prepared by Harris regarding appointment of future city attorneys.

Among other things, the ordinance sets out qualifications and a job description for those who will serve, saying they will do so at the pleasure of the council or for a period set by contract. The ordinance allows for assistant city attorneys.

Chidester said the new measure is flexible enough so that the city can hire an attorney to serve fully in the office of city attorney or contract with one as it has in the past.

In recommending Richardson as interim, Chidester said the city has a relationship with him since he has served as counsel for them in previous litigation. He said Richardson was known by officials, was easy to communicate with and had done a good job.

He also said Richardson agreed to take the role for one year while officials decided what to do about an attorney for the future.

In another ordinance first reading, the council heard a measure dealing with how streets may be closed or renamed and the time frame for it to happen. It sets out that a change will be considered upon the request of 60 percent of property owners or residents on the street and after public notification and hearings.

In several financial decisions, the council agreed to a resolution allowing Mayor Larry Collins to execute an agreement with the Georgia Municipal Association’s Direct Leasing Program for an estimated $114,110 to replace in-car police camera systems. Council also agree to spend $25,000 to finish a loop of fire hydrant lines in the Housers Mill Road-Walker Road area and $4,800 to repair leaking water pipes in the Manchester subdivision which have caused a sinkhole.

Contact Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.