Deputy manager idea scrapped; searches for financial director and permanent city manager a priority

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting Marathon City Manager Mike Puto announced his tenure as city manager is winding down and voiced a desire to find a permanent top administrator.

“I think I have a solution that does not involve hiring a deputy manager and also serves the needs of the council,” he said. “I stepped into the breach to fill a need and I would like to think that I have served that purpose honorably and with diligence and integrity.”

He said he plans to step down on Dec. 31, 2015 or before, if a suitable candidate has been hired and trained.

“This city is moving forward and we have a lot of projects in the works,” said Puto, after the meeting ended. “Our city council has a clear vision for Marathon. It’s been my job to put the necessary pieces in place in order to achieve the council’s goals during this busy transitional period. The time was right to give the city council a timeframe to search for the next manager. We’ve got to get that right. I’ve always tried to do what’s best for Marathon and I’ll continue to so.”

Puto has served on a month-to-month basis since former manager Roger Hernstadt abruptly resigned last January to take a job in Marco Island. He also said he plans prioritize the hiring of an in-house city finance director and city attorney, too, as the city moves away from contracted services to salaried employees. The job description for the city finance director is complete and is being advertised with state associations as well as on the city’s own web site. Dirk Smit, the city’s temporary attorney, is charged with writing a job description for the top legal position for the council’s review. Puto said both of those candidates should be in place by June 1.

Every councilman thanked Puto for his service.

“You have done a very nice job,” said Councilman Dan Zieg.

“Mike you’ve really stepped up and unselfishly jumped into the middle when Roger [Hernstadt] left abruptly,” said Councilman Mark Senmartin, adding that he hopes Mike will stay focused on the priorities to ensure a smooth transition.

In other news:

  • A motion by councilman Zieg to move city meetings from once every two weeks to once every three weeks failed. Mayor Chris Bull and councilmen Richard Keating and Mark Senmartin were not in favor citing familiarity with the current schedule, possible slow-downs for the private sector, and less frequent citizen comments on city business.
  • Utilities Director Zully Hemeyer presented preliminary plans for a steel building to house equipment for stormwater and sewer and also public works. The council questioned storage space and architectural embellishments for the building that fronts U.S.1.
  • Planning Director George Garrett said the Marriott should be open by July. The council also approved extending permit applications for both the Holiday Inn Express expansion as well as Coconut Cay.
  • The council denied a request to abandon a right of way at the end of 99th Street for the owner of two homes at the end of the road. Instead it directed the planning commission to redraft the ordinance. Remuneration from the citizen seeking abandonment may be a future requirement.

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