MADEIRA BEACH — Just days before the city is scheduled to learn who is the next city manager, fire Chief and former Interim City Manager Bill Mallory resigned.
And as with other top administrators to leave the city in the past year, Mallory was snapped up by a neighboring city — Treasure Island.
"Bill is very competent. I have been very impressed every time I spoke with him," Treasure Island City Manager Reid Silverboard said Friday.
"As interim city manager in Madeira Beach, he was professional and forward thinking. Bill will be a great asset to Treasure Island," Silverboard said.
Mallory handed in his resignation Thursday afternoon to his successor, Interim City Manager Jim Madden, saying only he had "accepted an offer of a management position with another organization."
Mallory gave two weeks' notice and was to leave officially Dec. 2. But at 3 p.m. Friday, Madden told Mallory to pack up his office and leave City Hall permanently, an action Mallory said was a "slap in the face."
Silverboard announced to his staff Friday that Mallory would become his new city's fire chief Jan. 1, when longtime Chief Charlie Fant will retire.
Mallory is getting a salary hike. He makes $72,526 annually and will be paid $80,000 a year in Treasure Island. The two departments are similar in size: one station and about a dozen firefighters, including supervisors.
Before coming to Madeira Beach as both resident and fire chief about two years ago, Mallory was deputy chief in Ocala, where he had retired after 28 years.
Mallory's departure marks another in a long list of top Madeira Beach officials who have left or been ousted as a result of last March's election that saw a shift in political power.
Two left even before the election: former City Manager W.D. Higginbotham Jr., who said he could not work with the incoming commission majority, and former community development director Paula Cohen, who is now a planner in Treasure Island.
After the election, the departures escalated.
The city's longtime clerk, Denise Schlegel, resigned to become city clerk in Dunedin.
Finance director Monica Mitchell left for a position with Clearwater.
Former city attorney Michael Connolly was fired for what the new commission said was improper aid he gave to Higginbotham in securing a $78,000 severance package.
The commission also forced the departure of longtime public works/community services director Mike Maxemow and human resources manager Deborah Cline by eliminating funding for their positions.
During Mallory's nine months as interim city manager, the commission tried and failed twice to hire a permanent replacement. Their selections withdrew during contract negotiations.
Last week, the commission interviewed six new candidates. One is scheduled to be named manager at the commission's meeting Tuesday.
The commission has the choice, of course, of not picking any of the candidates and continuing with Madden.
When Mallory quit as interim city manager last month, he cited the "unorthodox level of hostility" he was receiving from some commissioners.
Just before he resigned, Commissioners Robin Vander Velde and Nancy Oakley wanted him investigated over what they said was excessive spending for a consultant hired with their approval to help with preparing the city budget.
When asked about that experience Friday, Mallory said he found working with the commission was "unproductive" and "stressful."
As far as his new challenge, he added, "It's always sad to leave people I am working with, but it is exciting to go to a new department."