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New Madeira Beach interim city manager finds big, small issues

MADEIRA BEACH — Jim Madden's first week as interim city manager started with a roundup of a half-dozen wild roosters in John's Pass Village.

As the week progressed, the tasks on Madden's desk included approaching deadlines for two reports that had to be filed with the state — one involving property taxes and the other capital improvement projects cited in the city's comprehensive plan.

He interviewed and hired a code enforcement officer to fill a post that has been vacant for two years, reviewed applications for the still-open positions of finance director and planning director positions, supervised roof repairs to the public works department building, and brought in a contractor to evaluate possible repairs to City Hall.

Madden also stopped a live-aboard boater from tying up to a public dock behind City Hall and staying overnight. The boater's generator annoyed nearby residents at night.

Madden said his goal is to identify and prioritize possible solutions for the key issues that the next city manager will face.

During the first of two meetings with the commission, he defended his predecessor, Fire Chief Bill Mallory, who resigned as interim city manager two weeks before.

Mallory had come under fire from Commissioner Robin Vander Velde, who felt he had misled the commission over the cost of a financial consultant hired to help with formulating the city's budget.

During a special workshop Monday, the city's attorney, Tom Trask, stressed that Mallory's actions did not involve any criminality. He told the commission that if they wanted to pursue Vander Velde's complaints, they could put a formal reprimand in his personnel file.

Vice Mayor Carol Reynolds and Commissioner Terry Lister strongly defended Mallory's six-month service as interim city manager.

"I don't think he did anything that was wrong. He tried to do exactly what we asked him to do and for that he is being punished," Reynolds said.

Lister said the commission was at fault for not following up on Mallory's e-mail alert that the cost of budget consultant Fred Nutt had surpassed the original $6,000 cap. The city ended up paying Nutt about $25,000.

Madden also defended the fire chief, just two weeks after he had asked the commission to fire Mallory as interim city manager.

Madden said he discovered after four days running the city there was a lot of "pressure" and issues that needed to be addressed. He said Mallory had helped him take over the reins of the city's management.

Mayor Travis Palladeno praised Mallory for helping the commission cut $250,000 in spending from the city's budget and then asked if there was a consensus to drop any action against Mallory.

"Absolutely," responded both Lister and Reynolds.

Friday, consultants hired to find a permanent city manager met individually with commissioners to review the top candidates from nearly 150 applications.

The commission hopes to pick its new city manager by Nov. 22.

Madden, who previously served as the city's manager, is not among the applicants this time around.

In the meantime, he is being paid $2,000 a week to run the city.

"I am tired. I have put in many more hours than I anticipated. It's a matter of the issues at hand," Madden said.

Which brings us back to those roosters.

They showed up about a week ago near the bell tower in John's Pass Village and quickly became a tourist attraction.

But last year, the commission prohibited a resident from keeping chickens, and officials decided the city needed to abide by its own rules.

Over the past week, a trapper captured most of the roosters, which were transferred to a 4-H club in Pinellas Park.

"None of the chickens were harmed," Madden said.

New Madeira Beach interim city manager finds big, small issues 10/29/11 [Last modified: Friday, October 28, 2011 4:37pm]
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