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Palm Coast Tuesday, Jun. 1, 2021 1 year ago

City Council appoints Denise Bevan as interim Palm Coast city manager

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Bevan replaces Matt Morton, who resigned May 27.
by: Jonathan Simmons Managing Editor

Denise Bevan, Palm Coast's chief of staff over infrastructure, will be the city's new interim city manager.

Bevan takes the place of Matt Morton, whose resignation was announced on the city's official website on May 27 and followed the May 18 resignation of Mayor Milissa Holland. The City Council approved the appointment of Bevan to the position by a 4-0 vote at its June 1 meeting.

Morton's contract requires 30-day notice for resignation, but the council voted unanimously to waive that requirement: Morton will stay on only as long as it takes the city to finalize a contract with Bevan.

Bevan, a longtime city of Palm Coast employee, was previously the city's administration coordinator and senior environmental planner. The proposal to appoint Bevan was put forward by Councilman Victor Barbosa, who wanted Morton out as soon as possible.

"I think the city’s ready to move on," Barbosa said.

Councilman Ed Danko was interested in the possibility of hiring Ronald McLemore, a former Winter Gardens city manager who'd contacted the city and offered to take the position.

"If you’re flying an airplane, you really need to be a pilot," Danko said, "and I would hate to see us put somebody in a position who's never done the city manger job, where they could possibly fail."

But other council members said they wanted to hire from within.

Council member Nick Klufas raised the possibility of appointing the city's fire chief, Jerry Forte. The council asked Forte to speak before making its decision. 

But Forte backed Bevan, saying she was qualified and noting how familiar she is with the city's Strategic Action Plan. 

"There is nobody in this city that is more intimate with that program than Denise Bevan," Forte said. "She brings a lot of ability to work with everybody within the organization. ... I think what we need now is some calm, some stability, stability, and the ability to take what we’ve got and move forward.”

Councilman Eddie Branquinho, the acting mayor, asked to hear from Bevan herself. She said she was willing to accept the position.

"I’m here to serve the city of Palm Coast in any capacity necessary," Bevan said. "I would ask to better understand the terms and to work with each council member and our amazing team on what that looks like. With that, thank you and yes."

Morton had been hired in 2019. Just weeks before his resignation, he'd been granted a raise of $9,000 and received an average of 3.84 out of 5 on his annual performance evaluation.

CORRECTION: This story has been corrected to note that Bevan's most recent title was chief of staff over infrastructure. 

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