MADEIRA BEACH — In a 4-1 vote, the City Commission agreed to an employment contract with Robert Daniels of Melbourne Beach. Daniels had been the commission’s choice to serve as interim city manager until James Drumm becomes city manager Aug. 1. The start date for the interim city manager was set for July 10, Evans’ departure date, and the day after the vote on the contract.

Under the contract’s terms, Daniels will be paid the equivalent of a $125,000 salary, prorated for the time he is in the interim position. He will also be given an allowance for housing, meals and transportation.

The commission had picked Daniels after retired St. Pete Beach City Manager Wayne Saunders turned down the job.

The vote on Daniels’ contract came one day after the vote to hire him. That vote had been 3 to 2, with commissioners Doug Andrews and Nancy Hodges opposed.

During the discussion of his contract, Andrews again questioned the appointment of Daniels. Andrews said he had done some research on Daniels and found a newspaper article that indicated he had been fired from his job as town administrator of Melbourne Beach in March “because of concerns with project planning, implementation and follow-through, and a lack of staff morale,” Andrews said.

Also, Andrews said, “We are paying Daniels top dollar, more than he made on his last job.”

Deby Weinstein defended the commission’s choice of Daniels and the proposed contract. She said he was the most qualified candidate and “intends to do a fine job for us.” She also pointed out that the commission had delayed the appointment of an interim manager until the last minute, despite her urgings to do it earlier.

Andrews said the contract with Daniels is “terrible.”

“This is insane,” he said. “We should have worked with someone in-house to step into the job.”

Mayor Maggi Black called a halt to the discussion.

“It’s done,” she said. “Now we have to go forward.”

Departing city manager praised

City Manager Jonathan Evans was presented a plaque at the meeting, along with words of praise from Black.

Black proclaimed Tuesday, July 9, the meeting date, as Jonathan Evans Day. It was his last day in office. Evans will be returning to Riviera Beach as city manager, the job he left a year and a half ago to come to Madeira Beach.

Black read a proclamation in Evans’ honor. It said in part that under his leadership the city was able to revamp the city website and improve citizen involvement, develop public policies that created a mission and vision statement, create budgets with goals and objectives as well as quantifiable measurements for determining the success of municipal operations, and ensure that all employees are compensated fairly and equitably.

In Evans’ final written report, he said he would be “forever grateful and appreciative of the experience.” Evans said he recognized Madeira Beach as a “unique community” from the first day.

He said the city should “remain focused on what lies ahead, where the sky’s the limit.”

“I have appreciated your passion in our discourse,” Evans said. “It has made me a better human being and a better municipal manager.”

At the close of the meeting, Black thanked Evans “for everything you’ve done for our city. Your leadership, your patience, and your support.

“You’re going to be missed by many,” she said.