UPDATE: Vero Beach City Finance Director retires; Acting Electric Chief moves

VERO BEACH — As the Vero Beach City Council continues to sort out the termination of City Attorney Charles Vitunac, Finance Director Steve Maillet has announced his retirement and Acting Utilities Director John Lee will be stepping down from his interim post, but not leaving the city.

Interim City Manager Monte Falls put out a memo on Friday explaining that Lee will go back to his long-time position of Customer Service Manager as of Feb. 28 and that Maillet — who had resigned in March 2010 but deferred that decision — retired effective Feb. 11.

However, Maillet has agreed to stay on as a part-time city employee at his current hourly wage without benefits until the city hires his replacement.

Maillet has worked with the City of Vero Beach for 26 years, announced his retirement early last year but then decided to stay on indefinitely, waiting for the city to hire someone to take his place.

“We have been interviewing for the Assistant Finance Director position and have made significant progress in the last month,” Interim City Manager Monte Falls wrote in a memo sent to the Vero Beach City Council today. “I will be working with Human Resource Director Robert Anderson to advertise the Finance Director position before the end of this week.”

Maillet got a start in city government some 30 years ago. In the 1970s when he was graduating from Georgetown University with a degree in international affairs and serving as a payroll sergeant in the U.S. Army National Guard, Maillet was called in to participate on some international projects with China – and a career in politics seemed to be in his future.

He worked his way through college as a cashier at a Safeway grocery store, moved to Florida in March 1980, and went to work as a night auditor at a Holiday Inn while earning a second degree in accounting at Rollins College’s Brevard campus.

While working as an internal auditor and budget analyst for the City of Melbourne, Maillet applied for an operations accountant job with the City of Vero Beach and was hired in April 1985.

The finance director’s job entails the oversight and management of approximately $140 million in the city’s various budgets and funds and the supervision of employees in the accounting, budget, information systems, purchasing and warehouse divisions of the Finance Department, including cashiers who collect utility payments.

Acting Electric Utility Director John Lee assumed the interim position after Electric Utilities Director R.B. Sloan resigned in November 2009. It was not the first time Lee had filled the gap in between department heads, as there has been much turnover in the electric utility top spot.

Due to the impending sale of the utility, the city has not hired a permanent director.

Lee said he hoped his decision would prompt the City Council to put someone on, even on a contract basis, who has expertise in the technical and regulatory aspects of running an electric utility.

Over the past 17 months, Lee’s office has become a catch-all of everything from discrimination complaints to a multitude of requests for information from Florida Power and Light in reference to the power provider’s due diligence moving toward making an offer on the utility.

“I asked to be returned to the job of Customer Service Manager,” Lee said Monday. “FP&L is still in the data gathering phase, but at some time, I expect they will put forward a proposal. I think that the city needs to being in someone with expertise in these complex areas.”

Lee has been with the City of Vero Beach for 31 years.

Lee has told Falls that he plans to continue to provide his assistance in gathering the data requested by FP&L. Falls expects to discuss with the Vero Beach City Council Tuesday evening staff’s progress in finding a consultant to advise the council in electric-related utility issues.

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