City Manager Bob Bartolotta agreed to submit his resignation at the start of the Sarasota City Commission regular meeting Tuesday afternoon, and commissioners made preliminary plans to hire former Interim Sarasota County Administrator Terry Lewis in his place for the time being.
Bartolotta walked out of the Commission Chambers at 3 p.m. after Mayor Suzanne Atwell and Commissioners Paul Caragiulo, Willie Shaw and Shannon Snyder approved a motion made by Atwell that agreed to the following:
Bartolotta agreed to submit his resignation, effectively immediately, if the city agreed to pay a retainer fee for Bartolotta's attorney at $7,500 and pay no more than $2,500 on top of that fee for other costs Bartolotta might incur during the ongoing Information Technology investigation and as part of a possible criminal or civil lawsuit that might be made against him if he's found guilty of any crime. As part of the agreement made for Bartolotta to tender his resignation, Bartolotta will also be able to purchase city health insurance for him and his spouse in the same manner that employees at City Hall who retired prior to 1993 were able to do.
Only Vice Mayor Terry Turner voted against the motion, saying the motion "convicts Bartolotta without a shred of evidence he has done anything wrong" and calling the decision "a stain on the city."
Before leaving the chambers, Bartolotta said he's proud of the work he's done over the last four-and-a-half years.
"My regret is this transition is based on unsubstantioned allegations and charges without merits, but you don’t need a reason if you desire a change," Bartolotta said. "The many accomplishments that have been achieved over the last four-and-a-half years is a source of pride (for me)."
After Bartolotta left the chambers, the majority of the commission believed Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown was capable of being the interim city manager but would be unable to perform the job properly under the current environment at City Hall.
After calling for a five-minute recess, Snyder announced that Lewis had agreed to take the interim city manager job if the commission wanted him to come aboard. On Friday, Lewis will finish a stint as the county's interim manager.
The commission, however, agreed to schedule a special meeting as soon as possible to make the appointment after Shaw requested more time to think about the possible appointment of Lewis. The rest of the commission, however, made comments in support of Lewis taking the job.
"Mr. (Terry) Lewis is what's needed to stabilize this organization," Caragiulo said. "There's not a better person to do the job."
For more information, check www.yourobserver.com and pick up a copy of Thursday's Jan. 19 Sarasota Observer.
Email Kurt Schultheis at firstname.lastname@example.org.