Tuesday evening, St. Pete Beach’s recently elected Mayor Maria Lowe made a motion to fire City Manger Mike Bonfield during the city’s commission meeting. There was an emergency meeting scheduled for Wednesday evening to finalize that decision. Mayor Maria Lowe says that under the charter, termination of the city manager, attorney and clerk require a preliminary motion of removal to begin the process.
The motion passed in a 3-2 vote, with Lowe, District 1 Commissioner Terri Finnerty, and District 4 Commissioner Melinda Pletcher in support. District 3 Commissioner Gregory Premer and District 2 Commissioner Jim Parent opposed the motion to terminate.
“He now has 15 days to determine whether he wants a public hearing,” Lowe said. “Last night, he requested to invoke other aspects of his contract which would allow him to resign while keeping the contract in tact. There’s a benefit, across the board, in terms of dignity in the way two entities separate.”
By accepting the decision and resigning, Bonfield could maintain his contract’s benefits and severance pay. For legal reasons, Lowe says she’s “not at liberty to discuss that at time,” the reasons behind the move to fire Bonfield. That’s because the issue is “still active.”,
“Last night, Mr. Bonfield expressed the desire that if the commission made a final decision for his removal then he understood that,” Lowe said. “My desire is to honor what he has contributed to the city in all ways.”
At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Jim Parent submitted his resignation. Parent could not be reached for comment on when or why he decided to resign. Lowe says she was not aware that Parent was going to resign. It’s not clear whether Bonfield’s pending termination were the cause and Jim Parent could not be reached for comment.
“I asked him to reconsider,” Lowe said. “I believe wholeheartedly that it is a loss for the commission. His contributions to the commission are formidable.”
Bonfield could choose to hold a public hearing, where both and the City Commission would present their cases and hear public comments. If he decides in the next 15 days to do that, the city has 30 days to hold a public hearing.