County agrees to hourly pay for attorney

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 19, 2009

The attorney for Warren County supervisors will remain an hourly employee according to a contract renewed this week.

Though the board had reappointed Randy Sherard to the board attorney post Jan. 5 and, on Feb. 2, approved a payment for legal services, a professional services contract was not approved until supervisors met Tuesday.

A clause in the agreement sets out an hourly rate of $150, the same as paid to former board attorney Paul Winfield, who resigned the post to run for mayor of Vicksburg. Another spells out the “explicit intent” of the board that the attorney will serve as an independent contractor “and in no way” shall the position become that of an employee of the board.

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State law allows counties to pay counsel as an employee, or the same as supervisors’ $44,812 base salary. Supervisors here have viewed the statute as permissive, not a requirement. An attorney general’s opinion differs, but is advisory.

Fees paid to Winfield totaled $61,208 in 2007-08. Sherard was paid $53,000 in 2004, the most recent full year he served as board attorney.

Cases involving the county’s subdivision and flood plain ordinances, the operating hours of the Kings Point Ferry and commercial property taxes added to the legal workload in recent years. Except for a federal case that grew out of the ordinances cases, the rest remains the purview of the board attorney.

Sherard’s exit in 2005 and his reappointment in January came on 3-2 votes. The vote on the contract was without discussion but broke 4-1, with District 2 Supervisor William Banks the lone dissenter. Banks, along with District 3 Supervisor Charles Selmon, declined to support reappointing Sherard, citing a closed process for finding alternatives.

Banks continued his opposition of Sherard on a separate vote involving legal services for the program governing the grant program that is financing the replacement of the Haining Road bridge at the Port of Vicksburg. Hiring an attorney is part of implementing the program, as is appointing an administrator and an engineer.

Sherard’s first invoice for legal services was for $4,777.50.


Contact Danny Barrett Jr. at