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Madeira Beach hopes previous turmoil won't affect hiring

MADEIRA BEACH — Finding a new city clerk should be easier now that the "crazy pendulum has swung out of Madeira Beach," says City Manager Shane Crawford.

Crawford was hired in January after a wave of resignations decimated the city's administration.

In the prior year, the city lost its city manager, city clerk, finance director, community development director, public works director, human resources manager and fire chief.

Virtually all were snapped up by neighboring cities and are now working in equal or better positions.

Echoes of that rift between a newly elected commission and the people who run the city's government re-emerged in late October when City Clerk Ginger Stilton resigned after a year and a half.

City officials called her resignation a mutual decision, sparked by differences of opinion over her role in the management of the city.

When Stilton was hired in May 2011, the city had been without a permanent city manager for several months.

During her tenure, the city had a series of interim managers and she often performed functions that normally were in the purview of a city manager.

That role changed when Crawford was hired in January.

"I don't think their styles were the same. She had her fingers in a lot of different pies and I didn't think she needed to be in those pies," Commissioner Terry Lister said after Stilton's resignation.

Her resignation also came just after the commission discussed moving the clerk position under the supervision of the city manager.

Last week, the commission appeared to back off that idea, which would require a referendum changing the city's charter, which now calls for the clerk to report directly to the commission.

Mayor Travis Palladeno said that arrangement is particularly difficult since the clerk has five supervisors who sometimes give conflicting direction.

Further complicating the relationship is the state's Sunshine Law, which prohibits commissioners from discussing any city business, including supervision of the clerk, outside of a formal meeting open to the public.

"I can't talk with anyone about my concerns the way it is now," said Palladeno, who pushed for the charter change.

Vice Mayor Robin Vander Velde was strongly opposed, however, arguing that the position calls for a level of professionalism and direct communication with the commission.

"It is a system of checks and balances," she said.

Since it is too late to get a referendum question on the March ballot, the commission decided to advertise for a permanent replacement for Stilton.

"I think you will find a lot of people will apply for this job," Crawford assured the commission, adding, "The city manager and city clerk have got to be able to work together. That is all I ask."

The city clerk position will be advertised both in state and nationally at a salary range of $55,000 to $65,000, depending on qualifications.

The commission said it prefers applicants are certified by the state, but is willing to consider noncertified candidates, providing they have ample experience.

Applications will be accepted until Jan. 18 and the commission hopes to have a permanent clerk hired and working by the end of February.

Until then, Aimee Servedio, the assistant to the fire chief, is serving as city clerk in addition to her regular duties.

Madeira Beach hopes previous turmoil won't affect hiring 12/04/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 6:49pm]
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