As audit looms, top housing official bids Foster, St. Petersburg farewell
ST. PETERSBURG — The city’s manager of housing and community development for the past 14 years, Thomas K. de Yampert, told Mayor Bill Foster this week that he is going to resign in January, catching some at City Hall by surprise.
"It is with great humility and a deep sense of gratitude that I hereby tender my resignation effective Jan. 14, 2011," de Yampert said in his letter to Foster. "It has been my pleasure to work as a public servant."
The announcement comes just a week before the anticipated release of an audit analyzing the city’s above-market purchase of a home owned by the aunt of Goliath Davis, de Yampert’s boss.
Foster said last week that based on briefings he’s been given about the audit, he has questions that, if not answered, could result in disciplinary action for those involved. In December, the city paid $80,000 for the green concrete block house owned by Beverly Gray, Davis’ aunt. The city purposely used a 2007 appraisal, which inflated the price of the property that the Pinellas County Property Appraiser’s Office gave a market value of $24,000. It was de Yampert’s department worked with Gray in trying to find a new home.
De Yampert said his department wasn’t involved in the purchase of her home.
Foster didn’t return phone calls by the St. Petersburg Times to comment about the resignation. But Brad Scott, the city’s auditor, said de Yampert was not named or a focus of the investigation.
"I didn’t know he resigned," Scott said. Davis, the city’s senior administrator of community enrichment, could not be reached for comment.
De Yampter said the audit had nothing to do with his decision to resign.
"It’s just time," he said. "I got married three years ago to the most wonderful woman in the world and I wanted to spend more time with her."
He also said he had more than 400 hours of vacation time that he had accrued and wanted to spend now.
"The mayor tried to talk me into staying," de Yampert said.
He owns many rental properties, and he wanted to spend more time overseeing them, he said. He sits on the St. Pete Beach board of adjustments, but said he was also going to resign from that to avoid a power struggle in that city.
De Yampert, 61, started working with the city in 1994 as a housing development coordinator after a stint as credit administrator with First Florida Bank, which later merged with Barnett Bank.
In 1996, he was promoted to manager of housing finance and rehabilitation. His personnel files shows sterling reviews by his immediate boss, Joshua Johnson, director of housing and community development.
De Yampert "is a deal maker and can be a prime candidate for eventual leadership roles in the position of an assistant director or director," Johnson wrote on his annual evaluation in 2001.
His last evaluation was 2009, before Foster became mayor. His salary was $85,540.
-- Michael Van Sickler, Times staff writer