MADEIRA BEACH – A decision to hire Madeira Beach Fire Chief Derryl O’Neal as city manager has been put off, on the advice of the city attorney.
Attorney Erica Augello said the city commission was “putting the cart before the horse” by voting to hire O’Neal before an employment contract with him had been negotiated.
She said hiring O’Neal without a contract could result in a lengthy and difficult process to remove him if employment terms acceptable to O’Neal and the city are not reached.
After listening to the attorney’s comments, Commissioner Nancy Oakley withdrew a motion she had made earlier to hire O’Neal.
The move to hire, and then postpone hiring O’Neal came at the Aug. 8 city commission meeting. Earlier in the meeting, O’Neal told the commission why he wants to give up the fire chief position he has held for the past 16 years to become city manager.
O’Neal said it is time for the city to start looking forward, and stop looking backward. “There are a lot of issues we have to address,” he said, and the city has an outstanding workforce, “second to none.”
“If you decide to make me city manager,” O’Neal said, “I will be happy to assist the city in any way I can. I will be happy to step forward and do that.”
Prior to hearing the attorney’s comments, Mayor Maggi Black, Oakley and fellow commissioner John Douthirt said they were willing to go ahead and hire O’Neal as city manager.
Black said, “The chief stepped up when we needed him. He knows how to build a team and do the right thing. He should be our city manager.”
Oakley said O’Neal is doing an excellent job as interim city manager and would make an excellent city manager.