Marco Island moves forward after firing city manager

Lee Niblock (Photo credit: Alachua County)

The City of Marco Island is moving forward after the council unanimously voted Monday to fire former city manager Lee Niblock.

Niblock was accused of battery by a female school employee less than three months after being hired and is still being investigated by the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.

Niblock was making $185,000 a year and will be paid $15,000 or more after being fired based on his contract.

“It’s really costing us a lot of money as citizens of Marco Island,” former city councilmember Ken Honecker said.

Honecker said the city council should have done a better job at hiring a city manager and is worried this scandal could ruin the city’s chance at finding a solid replacement.

“They did not do a full background check on any of the candidates that went in as finalists,” Honecker said. “I think at this point we have a reputation and I don’t think you’re going to be able to get a good pool of candidates.”

Alachua County commissioners voted to remove Niblock as county manager in 2017, according to the Gainsville Sun. The paper cites complaints about an unfair employee bonus plan and low morale as the reason for his dismissal.

Councilmember Jared Grifoni said their basis for firing Niblock included several ethical violations including an email that hinted at firing staff members and referenced a St. Valentine’s Day massacre.

“Moving forward, once we identify the appropriate person we hope they are going to be there a long time to work with us,” Grifoni said.

An acting city manager is in place while council decides whether to use a search consultant again, do their own search, or hire from within.

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