DeLand, FL -
Friday will be the end of an era in Volusia County.
That's now the final day on the job for embattled County Manager Jim Dinneen
after the Volusia County Council agreed to move up his resignation date to June 22nd instead of January 11th, ensuring him a severance pay of around $374,000, not including benefits.
That 6-1 vote came in front of a packed house today at Frank T. Bruno Council Chambers, with many members of the public opting to stand in the back of the chambers once seats were mostly filled up.
Much of the crowd was quiet, but there were also several interruptions from the anti-Dinneen faction during the meeting portion discussing his contract and in the 30 mintes of public comment which came prior to the start of the meeting, some of which prompted County Council Chairman Ed Kelley to threaten to have the chambers cleared unless people quieted down.
Perhaps the rowdiest it got was when public comment time ran out just before Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood was to call for Dinneen's immediate termination with cause.
The Sheriff was allowed to speak a few minutes later once the meeting formally began, with Dinneen showing up to the dais just as Chitwood started to speak, focusing in part on a 2015 impact fee study which Dinneen never brought forward to the VCC.
"This latest episode has epitomized Dinneen's reckless, corrupt, inept, lying administration. He can't help it, it's in his DNA." Chitwood said during public comments at the meeting. "You all have a moral, ethical, and legal obligation to provide transparent, clean, and responsive democracy to our citizens."
Impact fees - which have not been raised in Volusia in many years - became a lightning rod during the county's push to get a half-cent sales tax raise on the November ballot, with opponents complaining that the county was favoring big developers by not raising those fees while trying to soak county residents for more cash.
District 4 Representative Heather Post - another frequent critic of Dinneen - was the only "no" vote after she attempted to bring forth a motion firing Dinneen with cause over a variety of issues, including his recent handling of the resignation of the county's chief medical examiner and insubordination towards elected officials.
Post's motion never made it to a vote, while the motion to accept Dinneen's resignation as of Friday was put forth by At-Large Representative Joyce Cusack and seconded by District 1's Pat Patterson.
After the vote, Dinneen told reporters leaving early was his idea, one that Kelley also echoed prior to the vote.
"I’ve got stuff to do," Dinneen added. "I’ve got a lot of life left in me that I can probably get another job somewhere else, in the public sector or private sector.”
Chitwood also told the press afterward that he wished there was a way to not pay Dinneen his severance, calling it "lawful but awful".
The council appointed Deputy County Manager George Recktenwald as the interim until Dinneen's permanent replacement is hired, on the condition that he not be considered as a permanent replacement.
Also during the meeting, the VCC agreed to provide around $500,000 to Volusia County Schools for the hiring of extra deputies to be stationed on school campuses starting next school year.