Commission Delays Decision on Bonfield

The St. Pete Beach City Commission held a special meeting Wednesday, April 23, to discuss the previous evening’s 3-2 motion to fire its city manager, Mike Bonfield. A standing-room-only crowd packed the commission chambers, leaving the only empty seat in the house the one on the dais, vacated the night before by District Two Commissioner Jim Parent.

“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 told the commission in an email Wednesday afternoon, “none of which would have been possible without a supportive city commission and dedicated city staff. I fully respect your decision to make a change in leadership and wish you and the community well in all future endeavors.”

Bonfield attached a memo to the email explaining he would waive his legal right to a public hearing if the commission agreed to fulfill the terms of his contract. Bonfield’s contract provides for six months’ severance, payment for unused sick and vacation days, and retirement contributions. It also provides that the city continue to pay his health and dental insurance premiums for six months. His payout at termination, should the commission agree to fulfill its contract with him, will fall just short of $105,000.

The commission, on advice from its attorney Mike Davis, opted not to make a decision Wednesday night. The mayor told the audience because the commission would not vote, it would not hear public comment.

On Wednesday, April 30, the commission will reconvene to decide whether or not it will honor Bonfield’s contract. At that time the city will also discuss the specifics of the special election to replace District Two Commissioner Parent, who resigned after the meeting in which the commission voted to remove Bonfield. The commission must call for a special election within 15 days of the commissioner’s resignation.

Administrative Services Director Elaine Edmunds will serve as the acting city manager. The commission will decide at Wednesday night’s meeting what to pay her for her added responsibilities.

The commission will hear public comment at the meeting Wednesday, April 30. Mayor Maria Lowe said the meeting would start at 6:00 p.m., although at press time the meeting was not noticed on the city’s web site.

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