Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Pete Beach commission moves to fire city manager

Mike Bonfield has been St. Pete Beach city manager for 12 years.

Mike Bonfield has been St. Pete Beach city manager for 12 years.

ST. PETE BEACH — Residents here were reminded this week that elections have consequences — in this case the surprise move to fire longtime city manager Mike Bonfield.

On Tuesday, newly elected Mayor Maria Lowe and Commissioner Terri Finnerty, supported by veteran Commissioner Melinda Pletcher, voted to oust Bonfield.

Their action prompted the abrupt resignation of Commissioner Jim Parent and sharp criticism from newly elected Commissioner Greg Premer, who said he also considered resigning but decided to remain on the commission to honor the residents who just elected him in March.

"The decision was made in haste," Premer said to loud and sustained applause from a packed audience at a special meeting Wednesday night.

The latest upheaval in the city's government is a clear reflection of more than a decade of political and legal fighting — costing nearly $2 million — over whether the city should grow as a significant tourist destination or retain a small-town character focused first on its residents but with a strong tourist and commercial contingent.

Lowe said Wednesday that she had been considering the move against Bonfield for some time, but only made up her mind this week.

She said her actions came from a desire to remove the "stranglehold" that litigation has had on the city's redevelopment.

"Change is never easy," she said, stressing that residents do not need to be fearful of the change.

Lowe said she wants a fresh perspective for the city, while Finnerty called for an era of change and a new city manager who has energy and is proactive in addressing issues.

"The city is not in a good place right now," said Pletcher.

Bonfield he did not appear at the Wednesday meeting, instead proposing he voluntarily resign in exchange for the city guaranteeing that he receive his full severance package as outlined in his contract.

"I have fully enjoyed my 12-plus years working in St. Pete Beach and am proud of the many things that have been accomplished," Bonfield wrote in an email to the commission. "I fully respect your decision to make a change in leadership and wish you and the community well in all future endeavors."

Under the proposed agreement, Bonfield would receive six months' salary, benefits and accrued sick and vacation time, a package totaling $104,495, as well as six months' worth of premiums for health, dental and life insurance.

Under city rules, Bonfield could have requested a public hearing to contest the termination.

Despite the crowded commission chamber Wednesday night, Lowe deferred public debate on the proposed agreement until another special meeting Wednesday.

At that time the commission will also discuss holding a special election to fill Parent's vacant seat.

St. Pete Beach commission moves to fire city manager 04/23/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 11:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Once 'angry' about Obamacare, Republican David Jolly came to see it as 'safety net'


    Former Congressman David Jolly, who ran against Obamacare in 2013, said in an interview Monday night that he now considers it a "safety net."

  2. Five children hospitalized after chlorine release at Tampa pool store


    Five children were sickened at a pool store north of Tampa on Monday after a cloud of chlorine was released, according to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.

  3. Deputies find unidentified decomposing body in Dunedin canal

    Public Safety

    DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff's deputies found an unidentified male body floating in a Dunedin canal Monday afternoon, the Sheriff's Office said.

  4. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  5. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108