BAM: BB kicks off overhaul plan to fire administrative staff

Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon began his new policy of holding a work session prior to city meetings with a bang as the city began to overhaul its administration department.

A plan put forth by Commissioner Jack Clarke and supported by the majority of the commission will essentially terminate every staff position at city hall, but allow current employees to reapply for their positions in an attempt to create a more structured environment.

At the Dec. 5 work session, Shearon indicated the departure of former city clerk Nora Idso is an opportunity to restructure the administrative staff.

Idso left her position for undisclosed reasons, but it appeared to be related to medical issues, according to her resignation agreement. She accepted the agreement terms in November to receive her full salary through April and keep her insurance through July.

“Nora has been our city clerk for a long time and she wore many hats,” said Shearon. “She was city clerk, city treasurer and the department head for the building and planning department.”

Karen Cervetto has been named “acting city clerk.”

Shearon said the city has been cautioned by its auditors for years to separate the city clerk and treasurer duties between two people. Shearon said the Florida League of Cities recommends that a municipality split the clerk and treasurer duties.

“Right now, we don’t have a city clerk or a city treasurer,” said Shearon, who told commissioners he is seeking direction in filling the positions. He said the planning department head can be addressed later.

“A lot of our policies and procedures are in dire need of updating and redoing,” said Shearon. “My thought is that we need to hire these people and basically start fresh.”

That brought Clarke forward to lay out his plan for the overhaul.

“My long-term plan is to eliminate every administration position and re-establish the positions of clerk, deputy clerk and every current employee for those positions,” said Clarke.

Only Vice Mayor Ed Straight questioned the idea of terminating employees and having them reapply for their jobs.

“I don’t know about that,” he said.

Commissioner Janie Robertson said she liked the idea of starting from scratch.

“We totally need to readjust the energy and talent in that office,” she said, while noting it’s an opportunity for the existing employees to showcase their strengths.

Perry said before the city moves forward with a plan to restructure city hall, she needed a consensus that the city would create separate positions for city clerk and treasurer, which she received, including authorization to spend up to $1,000 to advertise the job openings.

Perry then focused on the restructuring aspect and suggested keeping the same employee titles, but creating new responsibilities for each employee. She said she would need a consensus to proceed.

However, Straight said he wasn’t comfortable with the making existing employees reapply for their jobs.

“But it’s obvious I’m outnumbered here,” he said.

The final question to be answered is the chain of command at city hall under the mayor. The city clerk has typically been second in command. Perry asked if it would be the city clerk or treasurer who would be considered the administrative department head.

Clarke said for his plan, the clerk and treasurer would each be department heads of their supporting staff.

Officials acknowledged that funding for two positions is not budgeted, but Shearon said the city is going to have to “bite the bullet on this one” to come into compliance with its charter.

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