Holmes Beach building official resigns ‘under duress’

Holmes Beach superintendent of public works Tom O’Brien has resigned following an absence related to health problems and poor job performance reviews.

O’Brien’s signed confirmation letter of July 15 stated: “I find that the tasks assigned to me as building official and superintendent of public works are interfering with my health issues, which have been exacerbated over the months, resulting in a recent hospitalization.”

However, in an interview with The Islander a week after his resignation, O’Brien said he was intimidated and resigned under duress.

According to the city’s human resource specialist, Mary Buonagura, O’Brien was given an opportunity to resign following poor performance reviews, health problems and complaints from staff and the public.

Buonagura said it’s her responsibility as the city’s human resource specialist to sit in on disciplinary meetings.

O’Brien was issued a “performance improvement plan” from Buonagura in March, and a follow-up PIP was conducted in July.

The PIP is a recently instituted procedure, to help city employees who may be underperforming based on their job requirements to get back on track, Buonagura said.

In addition to PIPs, Buonagura has instituted annual performance reviews, saying some employees have only had a few reviews in 20-plus years of city employment.

O’Brien is the only employee to have been given a PIP.

His PIP in March cites falsification of timecards; allowing his provisional building administrators’ license to expire; missing deadlines; not conducting staff performance reviews; poor customer service to the public; lacking supervision of staff; and rudeness, including outbursts of temper in the workplace.

Buonagura said the March PIP was intended to give O’Brien the opportunity to correct discretions.

The PIP conducted in July had been delayed due to O’Brien’s health problems, Buonagura said.

It states that while some discretions had been corrected, he continued to miss deadlines, the “city’s standard for customer service (was) not being met” and he lacked the ability to supervise his staff.

O’Brien was contracted by Mayor Carmel Monti in December 2012 following the retirement of former superintendent Joe Duennes.

O’Brien said he is pursuing consulting work in Manatee County. “I’ve done it for the last 30 years in this county,” he said.

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