A controversy has grown regarding the selection of an Apalachicola city attorney to succeed Pat Floyd, who plans to step down beginning with the new fiscal year.

Eastpoint attorney Kristy Branch Banks, an Apalachicola native, was not selected among the top two highest ranked firms that the city is now negotiating with. Those two are both Tallahassee firms - Nabors, Giblin and Nickerson; and Oertel, Fernandez, Bryant and Atkinson. A fourth firm, Knowing and Randolph, also did not make the final cut.

The committee responsible for making the recommendation to the city commission includes Commissioner Anita Grove, local residents John Alber and Bonnie Davis, who are both attorneys, and Apalachicola residents Peter Gallant and Bobby Miller.

Grove told commissioners last week that those who didn’t make the top two finishers lacked the experience with municipal rules and regulations that was needed for the job. Banks serves as counsel to the Eastpoint Water and Sewer District, and has a busy local practice, but has not represented any city government bodies, with the two top candidates boasting of representing several cities and towns.

City Manager Ron Nalley said the city plans to allocate $80,000 for legal work next year, with $55,000 assigned to overall city work, and $25,000 specifically for planning and zoning. The budget during the current fiscal year exceeded the initial $80,000 that was allocated.

He said the city is in talks with the two Tallahassee firms, with each charging $6,000 per month for 40 hours of work, with the rate above and beyond that anywhere from $160 to $190 per hour.

Banks has proposed doing the job for $2,500 for 35 hours monthly, and then $80 per hour over that. Her litigation rate would be $125 per hour.

In addition, there would likely be additional costs for travel by the Tallahassee law firms.

Nalley said Tuesday that the city has not ruled out possibly hiring an in-house attorney. He said his talks with the Tallahassee firms has so far led to their suggestion they would hire a young counsel to the job, which could lower costs, but nothing concrete was mentioned along these lines.