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Teri McMaster, St. Pete Beach city clerk, quits after 13 years

ST. PETE BEACH — Teri McMaster, city clerk here for the past 13 years, resigned Tuesday.

She had come under increasing criticism in past years for her management of the clerk's office.

Most recently, City Manager Mike Bonfield gave her a highly critical job performance review.

Shortly after the review, McMaster took sick leave for more than a week, returning to her job last week.

On Tuesday, she handed Bonfield her resignation.

"It has been a difficult couple of weeks for me while making this decision," she wrote to Bonfield. "However, it is time for me to move on and reach out for new goals and opportunities."

When reached for comment Friday, McMaster said she and her family had just moved to Dunedin and she plans to "take a few classes at St. Petersburg College."

She declined to comment on her job performance review.

"There have been some tough times, but also some good times. It is kind of bittersweet," she said.

McMaster, a certified city clerk, was hired as city clerk in 1998 to fill a post vacant for more than a year.

The former city clerk, Jane Ellsworth, was fired in February 1997, reinstated and then allowed to resign, taking with her a $110,000 settlement that ended her lawsuit against the city over alleged sexual harassment by former City Manager Danny Walker.

McMaster subsequently qualified as a master city clerk and served two terms on the Florida Association of City Clerks as the Central West director.

Her operation of the city clerk's office came under fire last year when a consultant hired by Bonfield criticized the department's "work culture" and called for the clerk to provide stronger leadership for her department.

At the time, completion of minutes of City Commission and other board meetings were frequently a year or more behind.

McMaster said at the time the backlog in transcribing minutes was the result of staff cutbacks and many extra commission meetings that frequently exceeded five hours.

In July, she was formally reprimanded for charging more than $1,000 in personal expenses to a city credit card during a professional trip to Reno, Nev.

In October, Bonfield gave McMaster a job rating of 55 out of a possible 100 points and did not recommend any salary increase for the coming year.

"Teri still struggles with running an organized and efficient department," Bonfield wrote in her job review.

He also said her personal life "often distracts" from her job as clerk and that she has shown "very little improvement" in managing city records.

McMaster will work through Thanksgiving and then take unused vacation time until her formal departure on Jan. 7.

When asked to comment Friday, Bonfield would only say he "respects" her decision to leave her job.

"The job evaluation speaks for itself," he said, adding that he had hoped issues over McMaster's job performance could have been resolved.

Although Bonfield is responsible for supervising the city clerk, according to the city's charter the City Commission will decide when to hire McMaster's replacement and who it will be.

Bonfield said he does not expect the position to be advertised until January.

Teri McMaster, St. Pete Beach city clerk, quits after 13 years 11/20/10 [Last modified: Saturday, November 20, 2010 3:31am]

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