MORROW Greg Hecht is now officially Morrow’s man.
The Morrow City Council voted 3-0 to lift the cost-related contingency off Hecht’s hiring as the new city attorney Tuesday night. The move came after city officials negotiated his hourly rate down from as much as $245 down to $170.
The council had tentatively approved Hecht’s hiring last month, but only on the contingency that his rate be lowered to the same price commanded by other attorneys who sought the city attorney position.
“It was left open at the last council meeting pending us negotiating a lower price and we have done that so we’re bringing back the council for final approval,” City Manager Jeff Eady said.
The vote lifts some of the cloud of uncertainty off of the hiring of Hecht by making the appointment official.
However, there may continue to be something of a shadow over the hire because Hecht was hired despite finishing tied for last in a city council survey of attorney candidates.
He is a former state legislator and the Morrow Downtown Development Authority’s attorney.
Even though the city was able to negotiate a lower hourly rate for Hecht, the rate is a mere $5 less than attorney Steve Fincher, who was the highest scoring candidate.
It is also $20-an-hour more than the city paid former Attorney Laurel Henderson, who resigned last fall.
At least one Councilwoman, Jeanell Bridges, said she wanted Hecht, however, because she thought the city needed an attorney who had no obligations to other cities.
Fincher is the city attorney for College Park, Jonesboro and Lake City. The remaining candidates all had cities they already worked for as well.
But, then there is the DDA issue.
Hecht’s position with that group raises eyebrows because it is run by Morrow Planning and Economic Development Director Michael McLaughlin — who has been involved in a prolonged feud with Mayor Joseph “J.B.” Burke.
However, the mayor isn’t planning to let that shade his relationship with the new city attorney.
“I look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship with our new city attorney, based on I and the city council being made privy to all legal matters facing the city,” Burke said.
Henderson tendered her resignation in November in protest of the council’s decision to consult an outside attorney rather than her on a grievance McLaughlin filed against Burke.
The council’s handling of that grievance has led to accusations of Georgia Open Meetings Act violations.
The grievance is still pending although council members have stopped talking about it and have all but officially dropped the matter. Burke said that is “hanging over the heads of everyone in the city” as a result.
The mayor wants the matter resolved soon so the city’s leaders can move forward with efforts intended to benefit Morrow’s residents.
“I want them to either go forward with the grievance or I want it removed now,” Burke said.