Upset with the city manager, mayor wants him to leave early

Seeber survives a vote for him to leave earlier than planned.
Published February 23 2016
Updated February 24 2016

TEMPLE TERRACE — In a fiery City Council meeting last week, Mayor Frank Chillura criticized outgoing City Manager Gerald Seeber for not keeping him informed on city business, saying that Seeber had not shown him or the citizens proper respect.

He and council members Robert Boss and David Pogorilich wanted to oust Seeber immediately rather than wait until May 5, his announced last day of work.

The other three board members, Grant Rimbey, Cheri Donohue and Eddie Vance, voted down the motion.A special council meeting has been called for 9:30 a.m. today to discuss a settlement to encourage Seeber to leave early and appoint an interim manager.

At the heart of the issue is a notice that Seeber recently sent out to department heads regarding proposed changes in regulations governing city employees.

Former employees told the council that city workers were alarmed at a line stating that the city manager has the right to change the regulations.

City attorney Mark Connolly determined that the city manager does have that right.

"Why are there agreements in the first place if they can be changed whenever they want?'' Chillura asked.

He and the two council members want any rule changes delayed until the next city manager is hired.

Seeber's notice to city department heads resulted from a request by Human Resources director Aleicia Latimer, city spokesman Michael Dunn said.

"Our Human Resources Department has to update the city's rules and regulations periodically, because statutes change, labor laws can change. Our rules and regulations were last updated in 2001, so the department sent out some proposed language changes … and asked for feedback from the department directors,'' Dunn stated in an email.

"At this point, nothing has changed, nothing has been adopted. This is simply the first step in updating our rules and regulations."

Chillura complained that Seeber did not share that information with him before sending out the email. He said citizens knew about it before he did.

"What the hell do you think I felt like as the mayor of this city?'' Chillura said.

Dunn said this week that Seeber did not want to comment on the meeting.

"Mr. Seeber is doing what he feels is best for the city,'' Dunn stated.

Chillura and Pogorilich have been vocal opponents to recommendations by Seeber that the city should establish fire and storm water assessment fees to help put the city on sound financial footing.

Chillura said such fees — along with the current highest tax rate in the county — would discourage residents and businesses from moving to Temple Terrace.

Donohue, Rimbey and Vance expressed their support for Seeber.

"He's helped turn around the city, which was in far worse shape three years ago than it is now,'' Rimbey said.

Contact Philip Morgan at [email protected]

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