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Miller said she’d rather quit than be fired
By Al Everson
posted Feb 6, 2013 - 8:12:40am
Volusia County’s biggest city is under new management.
In a sudden shake-up, Faith Miller quit as Deltona’s city manager, saying she would rather quit than be fired.
Miller will get her complete severance package, including one more year of her $132,702 salary.
The bombshell came Monday evening, Feb. 4, when Mayor John Masiarczyk told the City Commission Miller had called him at about 4:30 p.m. and offered to resign “so that the city can continue to move forward.”
Miller did not come to work Monday.
“I went into the office [Monday], and I asked where Faith was, and someone said she called in sick. I said, ‘Uh, oh,’” Masiar-czyk said.
The City Commission voted unanimously to accept Miller’s resignation. She did not attend the meeting.
Deputy City Manager Dave Denny sat in Miller’s place, and commissioners offered him the job of interim manager by unanimous vote.
“Mr. Denny, will you accept?” Masiarczyk asked.
“Yes, I will,” replied Denny.
“We all have a great deal of faith in you to carry on,” Masiarczyk said.
In a telephone interview with The Beacon Tuesday, Miller said she had been asked Friday “to step down or be fired.”
“I’ve never been fired in my life,” she said. “I didn’t really want to leave, but the handwriting is on the wall.”
Miller said she sensed the new commission wanted a change by looking at the newcomers’ campaign promises.
Three commissioners were elected in November.
Miller, like many Americans, is now out of work.
“I have nothing lined up. I would not look for another job while working without telling anyone,” she said.
“It’s kind of daunting at this age to be without a job,” said Miller, who is 56.
Now that she is no longer city manager, Miller said she is planning to leave Deltona.
“I’m going to put the house up for sale this week. I’m moving back to my home in DeBary,” she said.
Deltona’s city charter requires the city manager to live in Deltona.
Miller declined to name the person who had confronted her Friday.
Miller, according to the mayor, asked for “all aspects” of her severance package, in exchange for her departure. Her going-away benefits include 12 months of her salary, plus 12 months of health insurance and disability coverage.
In October, the commission gave Miller a 2-percent salary increase, boosting her annual pay to $132,702.
Miller has been the city manager for five years. She replaced Steve Thompson, who left by mutual consent in January 2008. The City Commission appointed Miller on an interim basis, and she was later chosen as the permanent manager.
Before becoming city manager, Miller was Deltona’s city clerk. Her résumé also includes service as DeBary’s city clerk.
Miller narrowly survived an attempt to fire her in January 2011, when the City Commission voted 3-4 on a motion to dismiss her. Two of those who voted to oust Miller, City Commissioners Zenaida Denizac and Fred Lowry, have criticized Miller’s management style.
The third commissioner who voted against her in 2011, Herb Zischkau, chose not to run for re-election. Webster Barnaby was elected to Zischkau’s seat.
Miller’s resignation surprised at least a few commissioners, who said they had no advance notice.
“I need to know what’s going on here. That’s the bottom line,” Denizac said.
“I was surprised at the resignation,” City Commissioner Heidi Herzberg said.
Deltona Public Information Director Lee Lopez said he first heard about Miller’s decision at the Monday-night City Commission meeting, when it was announced by the mayor.
Masiarczyk said he had been under the impression that tensions between the city manager and City Commission were easing. That changed Friday, he said, when Miller called him and asked if the City Commission was planning to vote Monday on whether to fire her.
Masiarczyk said he will convene a special session of the City Commission to discuss the search for a new city manager.
“We need a cooling-off period to stabilize the city,” Herzberg said.
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