Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Largo gives city attorney's law firm a raise

Alan Zimmet has the current commission’s support.

Alan Zimmet has the current commission’s support.

LARGO — Alan Zimmet has been Largo's city attorney for 13 years.

He is well compensated, earning an annual retainer of $119,000 to work part time for Largo. The city also pays his law firm more than $200,000 a year for other legal work.

Zimmet hasn't asked for a raise for three years, and he's not asking for one next year either. However, he is asking for an increase in his law firm's hourly rate.

The City Commission voted unanimously for the pay increase last week. Although Zimmet's value has been questioned by critics on the Largo commission in previous years, the current seven commissioners believe the work of Zimmet and his firm is worth it.

"He's done an outstanding job this year," City Manager Mac Craig told commissioners. "His legal fees that have been charged — we get a lot of noise about the actual cost of it. The legal fees charged by his firm have come in under budget in 2011, 2012 and in 2013. We have budgeted the same amount each year, and he does not come anywhere near the full amount."

For Largo, Zimmet does the general work of a city attorney, handling legal inquiries from city staffers and commissioners, and reviewing and drafting ordinances and contracts. His firm is also paid an hourly rate for working on litigation and administrative hearings.

The commission agreed to raise the firm's hourly rate to $180 for attorneys, $115 for paralegals and $120 for law clerks, beginning Oct. 1. Based on recent history, Zimmet estimated this would cost the city roughly $26,000 more per year if the amount of litigation holds steady.

He's also asking that the rates be raised the following fiscal year to $190 for attorneys, $130 for paralegals and $140 for law clerks. That would match what the law firm currently charges the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority. Zimmet is the attorney for the PSTA, Largo and Safety Harbor.

Craig said Zimmet's recent accomplishments for Largo included negotiating a $562,500 settlement with a contractor and engineering firm that damaged a large underground sewage treatment tank, and winning a summary judgment against an apartment complex that could result in a $650,000 payment in lieu of taxes to the city.

Commissioners were united in their decision.

"I wholeheartedly support this. There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes that you do," Commissioner Robert Murray told Zimmet.

"You do a nice job," Commissioner Curtis Holmes told him. "I've actually seen you in the courtroom."

Mayor Pat Gerard praised the attorney's skill in negotiating contentious issues before they turn into lawsuits.

Such a unanimous decision hasn't always been the case.

Former Commissioners Mary Gray Black and Andy Guyette criticized Zimmet while they were in office, with Black repeatedly seeking to have Zimmet's contract terminated. She felt he was overpriced. However, she was alone in seeking his dismissal.

In response to Black's arguments, city staff researched legal expenses at a number of local municipalities and other similarly sized Florida cities and found Largo's $557,400 spent in 2011 to be in the middle of the pack. Clearwater, for example, had an in-house legal staff of 11 and spent $1.8 million in 2011, while Pinellas Park had no full-time staff and spent $292,500 with three firms hired on a contractual basis.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at or (727) 445-4151.

Largo gives city attorney's law firm a raise 06/08/13 [Last modified: Friday, June 7, 2013 1:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump hails the fallen and their families at Arlington


    ARLINGTON, Va. — President Donald Trump expressed his nation's "boundless and undying" gratitude Monday to Americans who have fallen in battle and to the families they left behind, hailing as heroes the hundreds of thousands buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

    President Donald Trump participates in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, May 29, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia. [Photo by Olivier Douliery - Pool/Getty Images]
  2. Tiger Woods arrested in Florida on DUI charge, released

    Public Safety

    Tiger Woods was arrested early Monday on a DUI charge in Jupiter, Florida, and spent nearly four hours in a county jail before he was released.

    Tiger Woods has been arrested on a DUI charge in Florida.
  3. Review: The Underwoods bring the political terror in 'House of Cards' Season 5


    The ruthless Frank and Claire Underwood are back, continuing their own form of terror inside and outside of the White House.

    Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in House of Cards Season 5 on Netflix.
  4. French president attacks Russian media outlets; Putin says Moscow didn't try to influence French election


    VERSAILLES, France — UPDATE, 11:57 A.M.: French President Emmanuel Macron has made an extraordinary attack on two Russian media outlets, saying they acted as "propaganda" organs during France's election campaign.

    French President Emmanuel Macron, right, speaks to Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Galerie des Batailles (Gallery of Battles) at the Versailles Palace as they arrive for a joint press conference following their meeting in Versailles, near Paris, France, Monday. [Stephane de Sakutin/Pool Photo via AP]
  5. In this Dec. 4, 2016, file photo, Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the third hole during the final round at the Hero World Challenge golf tournament in Nassau, Bahamas. Woods has been arrested on a drunken driving charge in Palm Beach County , various media outlets are reporting. [AP photo]