MADEIRA BEACH — The City Commission appears poised to replace Fire Chief Bill Mallory as interim city manager with a candidate who wants the position permanently.
Allen Godfrey, community services director in Belleair Beach for the past five months, is one of 18 people who sent letters of interest and resumes to the city.
Nine of those candidates have previous experience as either a city manager, county manager or assistant city or county manager, according to Mallory.
Godfrey is not one of them, although he has worked in senior government management for 14 years and holds a bachelor's degree in public administration.
He also worked for more than eight years as public works director in Seminole (2001-2008). In between, he was general services director for the Jefferson County Department of Health in Birmingham, Ala., for about six months, and a property manager in St. Petersburg for about three months.
Godfrey agreed Friday it would be risky to take an interim position in Madeira Beach with no guarantee of getting the permanent job.
"There is no question it would be a risk, but I look at it as an opportunity," Godfrey said. "It could last two months or for six or seven or eight years if I get the city manager position."
The decision on whether to switch interim city managers, first proposed by Commissioner Nancy Oakley at last week's workshop, may be voted on at Tuesday's meeting.
The suggestion came as a surprise to several city leaders, including Mallory, at least one commissioner and Mike Maxemow, the community services director.
Maxemow, 56, who has worked for the city for 35 years and served three times as interim city manager, now could find himself out of a job if Godfrey is hired and assumes Maxemow's duties. Maxemow declined to comment.
Oakley is critical of Maxemow's retirement and then re-employment last year, and an aborted effort by Maxemow in 2007 to upgrade employee pay scales, including his own.
If Maxemow is fired, he would be the fifth top city administrator to leave since December.
Former City Manager W.D. Higginbotham Jr., former City Clerk Denise Schlegel, Finance Director Monica Mitchell and Community Development Director Paula Cohen have already left the city.
Mallory was surprised that some commissioners think he is overwhelmed by managing the Fire Department and the city.
"Yes, I am busy, but I have not asked for relief, just that the hiring process be kept moving forward," he said.
Mayor Travis Palladeno quickly agreed to Oakley's proposal that the city hire Godfrey as a new interim city manager, pointing out he also manages the Belleair Beach city marina and "wore a couple of hats" in Seminole. Palladeno said he has spoken to Seminole City Manager Frank Edmunds about Godfrey's qualifications.
But he did not mention that he has known Godfrey for years and currently serves with him as officers of the Gulf Beach Masonic Lodge in Madeira Beach.
Palladeno's goal is "to save the citizens of this town some money" by having the new city manager also take over public works and possibly "one other hat" — a move that he says would save the city about $100,000 a year.
"The city isn't that big that it needs a public works manager and a city manager," he said.
Palladeno said Godfrey told him he would perform as city manager and community services director "for around $86,000 a year."
Commissioner Terry Lister, the only commissioner who defends the former commission and city administration, was adamantly opposed.
"I don't know why you want to do that," Lister said. "Just hire him if you like him so much. But there is no reason to make him an interim city manager. Why would you want to do that? What is that going to do? How is that going to help?"
The ironic part of the entire debate last week is that the city has yet to do a nationwide search for a new city manager.
That search won't take place, Mallory said, until the commission defines the job description for the manager position.
Another delaying factor is a lawsuit filed against the city by former City Manager Jim Madden, who is disputing the legality of the resolution terminating Higginbotham.
"We can't afford to go 14 months without a city manager," Palladeno said. "I do not believe we will see the city go forward until we start doing something."
He and Oakley believe that "something" is to hire Godfrey — or Palladeno's second choice, former Chamblee, Ga., City Manager James Gleason — as an interim city manager.
And if that weren't enough administrative drama, Tuesday's commission meeting could also see the appointment of a new city clerk.
Three finalists will be interviewed Monday — Teri McMaster, former St. Pete Beach city clerk; Ginger Stilton, deputy city clerk in Gulfport; and Carol Walker, district clerk for the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District and former town clerk for Lake Park.