Possible Squabble Brewing Over PC Attorney Fees

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Panama City Commissioner John Kady wants to take a closer look at the bills they're getting from their lawyer.

Commissioners hired Nevin Zimmerman from the Burke and Blue law firm last April to do the city's legal work.

Kady says the latest bill is so high he wants the commission to address it.

Panama City Commissioner John Kady says he's got some serious reservation about the bill the city has been receiving from Nevin Zimmerman for the last 7 months, saying, "Looks like there's numerous phone calls to the realtor and discussions over something that is a relatively simple matter."

The city hired Zimmerman to replace Rowlett Bryant, who retired last year after handling the city's business for 41 years.

Zimmerman charged the city around 8,000 dollars for the month of April.

That's what Panama City is used to seeing.

The latest one from the month of October is more than $30,000.

Panama City Commissioner John Kady explains, "Any kind of land use controversy is handled by outside council, any litigation is handled by outside council, all the marina issues - the deed issues are handled by outside council. So I would not expect that high of a bill."

This isn't the first time Burke and Blue's fees have come under fire.

Bay County Commissioners also criticized high fees before hiring their own in-house attorney 4 years later in 2006.

The Burke and Blue attorney at the time was Nevin Zimmerman.

Kady adds, "I looked into it briefly when we were going through the selection process, but we felt pretty confident as a commission that we had adequate controls at the time that we selected the firm."

Kady believes the City Manager's office need to improve communications with Burke and Blue to hold down the fees, saying, "Even commissioners should have to work through the city manager's office before they use Nevin's time in such a way that it costs the city $250 an hour."

Zimmerman declined our request for a comment, saying he's waiting for next Tuesday's meeting.