Beckett resigns over conflict with football

By EILEEN SCHULTE, Times staff writer
Published August 3, 2007

SAFETY HARBOR - After enduring criticism for taking time off from city business to work at his other job officiating football games, City Manager Billy Beckett has decided to resign.

His last day is scheduled for Oct. 1, but he indicated he'll depart sooner if the City Commission desires.

Beckett, 58, had no comment other than to say his resignation letter to Mayor Andy Steingold and city commissions "says it all."

The letter cites "extenuating circumstances" which "caused me to critically evaluate the overall operating environment here and the likelihood of a sustained tenure here does not appear to me to be the option that I once believed it to be."

He wrote that "it would be in the best interests of all parties involved if I stepped aside."

Since he began his $120,000-per-year job in late October, Beckett has taken about a month off. Many of the absences were on Fridays before college and Arena Football League games he refereed.

Mayor Steingold noted the absences in public comments about Beckett's performance, but did not call for his resignation.

At a meeting last month, a commission majority vigorously defended the manager saying he was doing an outstanding job. But Beckett "didn't think he had the commission's support," City Commissioner Joseph Ayoub said.

Ayoub also said Beckett felt taking unpaid leave from the city to officiate football games would negatively impact his finances.

Beckett's wife couldn't find a job in the area and remained in Georgia along with his children.

"I think it's too bad," Ayoub said. "I think we're losing a good city manager."