By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – Ben Logan can legally serve as mayor of Sherman while also working as in-house attorney for the city of Tupelo, but state law does have some limits on his actions.
Logan, mayor of Sherman for more than a dozen years, was approved Tuesday by the Tupelo City Council to serve as in-house city attorney. With this new position, Logan will blend his part-time mayor job with a full-time city attorney job for three to six months.
He plans to resign as mayor of Sherman after wrapping up a few ongoing projects.
As mayor of Sherman, Logan makes $8,000 annually. Tupelo’s city attorney position pays $90,000.
Tupelo City Council members said they understand him needing to transition duties as he begins working for the city. And it’s not the first time a mayor of one city has wanted to serve in an appointed position of another.
On April 4, 2008, the Mississippi Ethics Commission issued an opinion on a similar question, a case asking if a mayor could serve as city administrator of another city. In short, the state law allows it. However, Logan, as mayor of Sherman, would be prohibited from entering into any sort of inter-local agreement or other contract with the city of Tupelo that would result in him receiving any sort of direct compensation.
That won’t happen, said Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton, who nominated Logan as city attorney. He also said if the city of Tupelo has any type of agreement or legal work related to the city of Sherman, the law firm Mitchell, McNutt & Sams will handle it.
Shelton pushed for the creation of the in-house city attorney position when he presented his budget to the City Council. MM&S has represented Tupelo municipal government for 36 of the last 40 years and will continue to work on behalf of the city on a limited basis.
Beyond financial interests, the Mississippi Ethics Commission also warns of another concern Logan will face – competing interests between the two cities. The Commission rules in those instances he should consult with the Attorney General’s office.