Update, 6 p.m., May 25.
This story has been updated with comments from Deltona Mayor Heidi Herzberg.
For the third time in less than a year and a half, an abrupt change in Deltona’s civic leadership is unfolding.
Acting City Manager John Peters III has submitted his resignation, effective at the City Commission’s pleasure.
“I don’t have a choice,” Peters told The Beacon. “There’s too much interference. If I resign, I can speak out about it.”
Interference, he explained, is coming from city commissioners who oppose his measures on code enforcement and personnel.
“That’s a breach of the charter,” Peters added.
Indeed, Section 5, Paragraph 11 of Deltona’s charter sets out the separation of powers, prohibiting city commissioners from interfering with city employees doing their jobs, or risk being guilty of malfeasance.
“NONINTERFERENCE BY CITY COMMISSION. Except for the purpose of inquiry and information, the Commission and its members, including committees thereof, are expressly prohibited from interfering with the performance of the duties of any City employee who is under the direct or indirect supervision of the City Manager or City Attorney. Such action shall be malfeasance within the meaning of Florida Statutes.”
— Deltona city charter
Peters tendered his resignation May 25. His letter of resignation takes the form of a memorandum for an item to be placed on the agenda of the City Commission’s June 7 meeting. That is the next regular meeting of Deltona’s governing body.
Mayor Heidi Herzberg said she doesn’t plan to call a special meeting to discuss Peters’ resignation.
“No, he’s made it very clear he wants to wait for June 7, she said. “And maybe then, commissioners will decide to keep him until the end of the year, and maybe stay out of his way.”
Herzberg blamed Peters’ decision to resign on “out-of-control commissioners.”
She said, “They can’t seem to get out of their own way.”
In his letter, Peters writes in the third person and presents three options with dates for acting on his intention to leave the post he was appointed to last fall.
— Accept Mr. Peters’ resignation effective immediately and designate an interim city manager;
— Accept Mr. Peters’ resignation effective upon completion of the draft city budget in mid-August and designate an interim city manager at that time; or
— Accept Mr. Peters’ resignation, effective Dec. 31, to allow the City Commission time to complete a search for a city manager.
Peters’ decision to exit Deltona’s top administrative post follows favorable career evaluations from members of the City Commission, and the commission’s decision May 3 to grant him a $2,500 increase in his annual salary.
The City Commission, in a surprise move, turned to Peters — who had been director of public works — to replace Acting City Manager Dr. Marc-Antonie Cooper when Cooper resigned in February.
Peters’ base salary as acting city manager was $165,000 a year. The commission had demoted Cooper for allegedly failing to keep them fully informed about matters at City Hall.
Cooper became acting city manager of Deltona in January 2020, following the exit of Jane Shang. Shang resigned after the commission voted “no confidence” in her. She had served as Deltona’s city manager since 2015.
This City of Deltona is out of control, we need strong leadership and less stabbing on the back by co worker and City manager etc. its a joke with this City leadership and the hiring process and then the firing process. I was faulty accuse of damaging a small pick up truck , which I know I didn’t damage being the only woman in that site , I try best to work 8 to 10 hours in 5 hours. I was husting and I got injury but the camera didn’t see that. I had to drive 2 to 3 hours opening the parks and opening the bathroom, then I also had to clean the bathrooms. When my co worker Adam went on vacation , I reality that he had train me wrong. I wasn’t told that could pick up where I left off , when it came to the bathrooms. I had to open the gate at 4:30am and being a woman, I did my best not to open the gate to wide so that no one could seek in , while I got the 1421 small pickup truck. My ex supervisor Mr. Sharon Smith claim that I damage the truck while coming , but that can’t be so because I did my best not to damage the truck and keep myself safe. I had to open the gate first then drive the truck inside the gate , this process must be done slowly because there were another truck and equipment .I wrote to the Mayor and also to my commissioner Victor Ramos and he sent my email letter to the City manager who I already had seen because the Mayor didn’t have time for me. When I did see him, he look like he was high on his medication. I try to explain that at no time did I damage the truck , he call me a lair etc. I was not impress with him, attacking my character my parents raise me right. Also during my firing because I was on probation, Mr. Sharon Smith accuse me of lying to his boss but he at no time had a oral talk with me, also Mr. Sharon Smith would call me for the most stupid reasons. I wasn’t comfortable with him calling me. I didn’t complaint because I just felt that they were going to fire me. Because I refuse to take the hours of 4:30 am to open the parks and bathrooms, then come back at 7am and clean the bathrooms, then come back at 5 pm and close the bathrooms and the parks in five hours. I try my best to accomplish it but it was impossible. Since I had Adam my co worker giving Mr. Sharon Smith complaints about me, I knew I was going to get fire, then Mr. Sharon Smith inform me that if G co worker who if he didn’t wanted his overtime, then I could put in my five hours for the day. I thought I was hire as a part- time park attendance. Also I was told during my firing that they had a video , showing me damaging the small 1421 pickup truck . I was never show the video . Many people question me why wasn’t I show the video if that was so. This is my story to the best of my ability and knowledge. I truly enjoy doing that job.