TREASURE ISLAND — Treasure Island is losing two of its key employees — police Chief Tim Casey is retiring after 19 years on the force and city attorney Maura Kiefer has abruptly resigned following months of citizen complaints.
Kiefer's announcement came at the end of Tuesday's commission meeting and followed months of public comments from residents about the number of lawsuits the city has been involved in during the past two years and mounting legal costs.
After disputing comments made at the beginning of the meeting made by a resident, Kiefer said she would resign.
Kiefer told commissioners she would stay until the end of September and "help in the transition."
Litigation costs for two lawsuits — one involving construction of the city's beach walkway and the other a suit brought by hoteliers over parking and driving on the beach — have exceeded $125,000.
Commissioners, during a review of the quarterly finances Tuesday, were told that legal expenditures far exceed the $15,000 budgeted annually.
Kiefer, who has represented the city for 11 years, said her decision to leave was not based on recent criticism.
"I am very excited to pursue business opportunities outside of Treasure Island. I have served the community diligently for many years and it is time for me to focus on other venues," she said Wednesday. "I am looking forward to positive changes."
Commissioner Tim Ramsberger had previously pushed for the city to seek proposals from other attorneys.
"We need to get different leadership. We are involved in a lot of litigation," he said.
Ramsberger said he would like to see the city hire a firm that would provide day-to-day legal advice but would also have the expertise to handle other issues like land use challenges.
"Our legal affairs have gotten more complicated. We have been outsourcing and paying a premium price for it," he said.
But other commissioners have supported Kiefer and Tuesday said they were sorry to see her leave.
"I'm upset we are going to lose our city attorney," Commissioner Alan Bildz said.
Mayor Robert Minning thanked Kiefer for her service.
"We think we've received value for the money we've spent," he said, and defended the city's decision to sometimes hire outside counsel saying "no city attorney can be expected to be an expert on everything."
Casey received a standing ovation earlier in the meeting when he officially announced his retirement, effective Aug. 31.
"It's been a pleasure working with you and I appreciate the trust you have given me," Casey said. "It's been nothing but a positive experience."
Casey, who was named police chief in 2006 after the retirement of former Chief Joseph Pelkington, won high praise from City Manager Reid Silverboard.
"He is one of the best chiefs I've ever worked with," he said.
Lt. Armand Boudreau will take over as police chief.