MADEIRA BEACH — After 36 years of working for the city, including three times as interim city manager, Mike Maxemow will leave Friday to begin a new job in neighboring St. Pete Beach.
As director of community services, he is the fifth top Madeira Beach administrator to leave the city since the beginning of the year. Also gone are the city manager, the city clerk, the finance director and the community development director.
As of Oct. 1, the commission also is eliminating the city's human resources manager position and plans to have a yet-to-be-hired finance director take over some of those duties.
So far, only the city clerk position has been filled. Fire Chief Bill Mallory has been serving as interim city manager since February.
Maxemow gave Mallory his resignation Monday, just weeks ahead of forced unemployment.
In his letter, Maxemow criticized Mayor Travis Palladeno as having "no credibility" in failing to keep a promise made to Maxemow that he could continue to work for the city in a new role as a project manager.
"It is my sincere hope that the city is able to move in a more positive direction by filling its several vacant positions. Restoring employee morale is vital for the city," Maxemow said.
Palladeno responded Tuesday that he is only one of five votes on the commission and under the city's charter cannot hire employees.
"It is time for the city of Madeira Beach to move on. I wish him well," Palladeno said.
The mayor also said he has "no concerns" that the supervisors of Madeira Beach's public works, recreation, parks, solid waste operations and beach maintenance will be able to run their departments after Maxemow is gone.
The new City Commission majority, elected in March, decided months ago to combine Maxemow's position with the city manager post, a move Palladeno and Commissioners Nancy Oakley and Robin Vander Velde believe will make city operations more efficient and save tax dollars.
After two failed tries to hire a new city manager/public works director, the commission is now planning to hire an outside consulting firm to help in the search, a process that could take several months to complete.
Meanwhile, a lawsuit filed against the city by former city manager and city resident Jim Madden might be over.
This month, Madden's case was dismissed in court. The final order has yet to be issued, however, pending Madden's filing of an amended complaint.
Madden alleges the previous commission violated the Sunshine Law in how it fired W.D. Higginbotham Jr. and gave him a $78,000 severance package.
Ironically, if Madden's lawsuit were successful, Higginbotham would be reinstated as city manager. He would have to return his severance, but the city would have to pay him back salary to the time of his resignation in February, which so far would be about $45,000.
If Higginbotham, who now is president and executive director of the Treasure Island Chamber of Commerce, were fired again, he still would receive his severance pay.
Higginbotham said Tuesday that Madeira Beach is "losing an incredible asset" with Maxemow's departure.
"He is a real resource for the city. There is not a piece of infrastructure that is buried under the streets that Max doesn't know where it is," Higginbotham said.
Maxemow said although he is sad to be leaving Madeira Beach, he's also excited about his new job as operations manager in St. Pete Beach.
Beginning Sept. 12, he will oversee the city's parks, recreation, building maintenance, beaches, stormwater and utilities, and report to Director of Public Services Steve Hallock.
"We are lucky to get somebody with that kind of experience," St. Pete Beach City Manager Mike Bonfield said. "I think Max will do a great job."