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More Turmoil at the Top in Flagler Beach: CRA Director Caryn Miller Resigns

| February 25, 2011

Caryn Miller had been Flagler Beach's CRA director since 2006. (© FlaglerLive)

Caryn Miller, Flagler Beach’s community redevelopment director since 2006 and its acting manager for the last three months of 2010, resigned this morning (Feb. 25).

“The reason why I’m leaving is personal reasons, some of which are health reasons,” Miller said. “I have enjoyed my five years with the commission, we’ve done a lot. I brought in over $5.8 million,” not just through the CRA, but through city-wide programs, Miller said, referring to her former colleagues as family. “There’s been a lot of progress. I’m very proud of that.”

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Her departure leaves the city without a permanent appointment in two of its three top positions, two weeks away from an election that will add two new faces to the five-member commission. Commissioners were not aware of Miller’s resignation Friday morning. “I made my decision last night when I came home to resign, so they had no knowledge I was planning to leave. My health comes first,” Miller said.

Miller would not address more specifically internal matters that may have led to her resignation.

There were issues, however, looking back over recent weeks and months, including action by the commission Thursday evening, when Miller’s job description was redrawn. Miller, in sum, hadn’t had an easy time of it lately.

A finalist among the 140-some applicants to be city manager last year, Miller was eventually picked as the acting manager when city commissioners couldn’t agree on a permanent choice. She was them bumped off that job as commissioners decided to give Bruce Campbell the acting job. The shunting lacked grace. But so has the city’s entire process of picking a new manager, which stretches back to late last spring and remains unresolved.

Campbell is the popular choice in the city at large, judging from petitions and applause meters. So far, he’s not the choice of the necessary four-commissioner majority required to hire a manager permanently. The city has been without a permanent manager, hired in accordance with its charter, for five years. His appointment as an acting manager beginning the first week of 2011 was a compromise by one swing vote on the commission–that of Joy McGrew–to appease Campbell partisans in town and give Campbell a chance to prove himself on the job. The move, however, was at the expense of Miller.

Adding to the tensions: Campbell and Miller don’t get along. Both describe the tenor of their relationship as “professional.”

Campbell went out of his way to say he didn’t have a problem with Miller and was offended by the notion he didn’t get along with her. “Caryn has done lots of good things for the city she certainly brought many, many grants that have done lots of good things for the city. We’re going to miss Caryn,” he said. “Can she be replaced? Anybody can be replaced, including me. I feel bad about it. I hate to lose any senior member of our staff in any organization, but tomorrow is another day but we’re going to pick up the pieces and go forward.”

Thursday evening, matters took a turn for the worse when the city commission redefined Miller’s job description to include grant writing. Miller had been doing the city’s grant writing all along: that had been one of the ways she’d burnished her standing there, in addition to her responsibilities as community redevelopment director. The CRA job paid $51,000–paid out of the city’s CRA fund. When Miller worked on other duties, she was paid for those duties out of the city’s general fund. She was not paid for those duties in addition to her CRA pay, but instead of it. Last year, $6,468, or about six and a half week’s worth of Miller’s time, was billed to the general fund.

Libby Kania, assistant to the city manager, rewrote the CRA director’s job description to include seeking and applying for county, state and federal grants and to manage “other grant related projects as assigned.”

Kania’s explanation to the commission Thursday evening now sounds more prophetic than expository: “I did that,” Kania said, “because if the person doing the job today should, I don’t know, evaporate, decide to run away from home or whatever and we had to fill this job again, and it was actually this persons–Caryn’s–input to this, that this would be something that we would like to have, that if they had this knowledge it would benefit the city going forward.”

Only once Kania referred to Miller by name (the parenthetical mention of “Caryn” as she explained the rewriting), referring to her instead as “the person” in the job. Commissioners barely discussed the matter and passed the motion 4-0. Commissioner Ron Vath was absent. Vath is the commissioner who last year moved to hire Miller permanently as manager.

As it turns out, Miller’s service by Friday morning had evaporated.

“It wasn’t that I wanted a raise in pay. I’ve been doing a lot of different jobs for the city and not been compensated for many years,” Miller said. Nevertheless, commissioners approved the change without changing the pay.

Campbell will assume Miller’s responsibilities in the absence of a new CRA director. In her resignation letter, Miller said she’d be available to the city on a consultant basis. “I’m just going to try to get my health straightened out right now and do a little consulting on the side,” she said.

3 Responses for “More Turmoil at the Top in Flagler Beach: CRA Director Caryn Miller Resigns”

  1. lawabidingcitizen says:

    Well done. The CRA should be dismantled right now.

  2. curious says:

    What a loss for our community!!! How could the Commission let this happen? Campbell says so calmly she can be replaced and that he will take over her job. What a crock! He has no clue how to run the City now, much less how to run the CRA.

    What Caryn has brought to this City was a revival of our community in so many ways. Lets watch as the City continues to move backward instead of forward. She may be replaced by someone else, but I doubt that they wil lbe able to do her job as well as she has and with as much passion for the best of our town as she has shown.

    Shame on you!

  3. John Smith says:

    They will probably give it to TOM GILLIAN he is bringing all these parties to the beach for free to the party givers at NO cost to them and lets the city pick up the tab for cleaning up the mess. THEY NEEDED TO GET RID OF TOM AND LET CARYN DO HIS JOB because she would not just let them party at the beach. Just like the craft show up there now at the park, who is going to clean that mess up, NOT TOM but the city sanitation crews for free. Something going on every weekend at the beach is not acceptable. Get RID OF TOM GILLIAN

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