MADEIRA BEACH — City Manager Shane Crawford left no doubts Wednesday that he is in charge of running City Hall.
At the new city manager's request, City Attorney Tom Trask cautioned commissioners against violating the city charter by making direct contact with employees.
"The city manager runs the city under your direction and has control of all employees," Trask said during a commission workshop.
He emphasized that if commissioners interact with city employees before first going through the city manager, they would violate the charter and potentially "forfeit your office as a commissioner."
When the city was without a permanent city manager for almost a year, commissioners had to take on management duties, Trask said.
"I have been asked to bring this to your attention that you now have a full-time city manager and it is not necessary for you to deal with those employees as you have in the past," he said.
Crawford stressed that the warning about potential charter violations was "not meant to be accusatory" but rather to prevent "some very innocent things" that could become charter violations.
He then read a five-page memo outlining the steps he is taking to reorganize city administration.
Crawford said he has reassigned several clerical employees, allowing him to have a full-time assistant, as well as to ensure "100 percent" coverage of the front desk at City Hall.
Marina director Dave Marsicano will now supervise city recreation, parks, the marina, public works and sanitation services, with the city's "field workers" reporting to Marsicano, who reports to Crawford.
The city manager also announced he has hired the city's auditors to begin reconstructing and closing out the city's financial books, which he said were eight months behind.
The cost could be up to $35,000, he said, but it is vital to compile the financial data prior to creating the next city budget.
He also has a number of administrative positions to fill, including the city's fire chief and positions in finance, planning and human resources.
Crawford said he will take on the human resources function himself and is recruiting a finance director.
Former fire Chief Derryl O'Neal is now serving as the city's interim fire chief and could become the full-time fire chief again. He is currently fire chief of Minneola, an Orlando suburb, and was given a leave of absence to return to Madeira Beach.
O'Neal was fired in 2009 by then-City Manager W.D. Higginbotham Jr. over allegations of insubordination.
Crawford told the commission Wednesday that he and Trask are researching whether O'Neal can be rehired. The city's personnel policies prohibit the rehiring of any employee who was fired for "repetitive disciplinary actions."
Crawford said that if O'Neal is eligible to be rehired, he will be considered as a candidate for the permanent position.
Hiring a new community development director will depend largely on whether the commission wants to restore its building permit department, a function that is currently being provided by Treasure Island.
Building permits generate about $160,000 a year, but the functions of planning and permitting cannot be combined well, Crawford said, and would require two separate positions.
Crawford took over his city manager duties full time two weeks ago.
"I think in a very short time we've taken some progressive steps forward in what I keep referring to as the "next chapter' for the city of Madeira Beach," Crawford told the commission.