Madeira names city manager

 Michelle Neuner

MADEIRA BEACH — The City Commission’s choice to become Madeira Beach’s next city manager has decided she does not want the job.

Michelle Neuner, assistant city manager of Winter Park, was picked from five finalists in a close vote at a special meeting on June 27. She had been ranked first or second by four of the five commission members, and received the most points in a final count.

But a request by City Manager Jonathan Evans that the vote be made unanimous failed when Commissioner John Douthirt voted against the motion.

The lack of unanimous support from the commission was the reason Neuner gave for rejecting the offer to move to Madeira Beach as city manager.

After Evans announced at a special commission meeting on July 1 that Neuner had withdrawn her candidacy, Commissioner Doug Andrews read from a letter Neuner sent to Evans giving her decision. It said in part, “The citizens of Madeira Beach deserve a candidate selected with the full support of the commission.”

“That says volumes about what just happened,” Andrews said. He told Douthirt, “You owe Ms. Neuner an apology.”

Douthirt responded that he declined to support Neuner because she had never been in a leadership role. She has been “an assistant for 27 years,” Douthirt said.

The commission decided not to select its second choice, Lyndon Bonner, and to reconsider all of the remaining four candidates on the final selection list.

That will be done at the next scheduled commission meeting on July 9. That is also the last day for the current city manager.

The commission also decided in a close vote at the July 1 special meeting to hire Wayne Saunders, retired former city manager of St. Pete Beach, as interim city manager. Evans said he would negotiate a contract with Saunders and bring it to the July 9 commission meeting, but according to media reports, Saunders declined the offer.

The commission rejected a move by Andrews to bring back former Marina and Public Works Director Dave Marsicano as interim city manager. Andrews said Marsicano knows Madeira Beach and its operations and could step into the interim position with no training. Marsicano resigned last year amid controversy over an external audit that showed deficiencies in the marina operations.