jim chisholm
Jim Chisholm at a Deltona City Commission meeting on Nov. 7

Members of the new City Commission in Deltona say one of their top priorities is to select a new permanent city manager.

The biggest city in Volusia County — and the second largest in East Central Florida, with about 95,000 people — has been without a permanent administrator for almost three years. Since former City Manager Jane Shang’s rather abrupt fall from grace and quick resignation in early 2020, Deltona has had a series of short-term managers, designated as interim or acting. 

All the while, the elected officials — mayors and city commissioners — have spoken about the need to find a lasting replacement for Shang, but the task of actually committing to finding and hiring a permanent successor has been postponed, delayed, or put on hold or on the back burner while other issues, such as rezoning for RPUDs, water projects, hurricanes and elections, commanded attention.

Instead of waiting until after the Nov. 8 general election, and letting their successors choose a caretaker manager, the lame-duck Deltona City Commission — on election eve — entered into an agreement with James Chisholm, former city manager of Daytona Beach, to run the city government for at least six months.

In fact, with a 4-3 vote, the commission rejected a motion to let the incoming reconstituted City Commission decide whether to hire Chisholm or someone else to handle Deltona’s day-to-day governance.

Chisholm has been at work in Deltona for more than a month. In a special meeting called Oct. 12 to interview 14 applicants for interim city manager, Chisholm was the first to be interviewed and the top choice of the field of prospects for the temporary position. He worked for more than three weeks without a contract. When the agreement came up for public discussion, critics strongly complained Chisholm was being overcompensated. Nevertheless, the City Commission ratified the contract with a 4-3 vote. 

Highlights of the contract now in force between Chisholm and the city include:

— An initial term of six months

— Chisholm’s tenure will automatically continue for an additional six months, unless either he or the Deltona City Commission gives written notice “not to renew” at least 30 days before the expiration date.

— Chisholm is to be paid $87,400 for the six months of duty in Deltona. He will be paid “in equal weekly payments of $3,361.54,” the contract reads.

— Chisholm will receive all benefits of a full-time City of Deltona employee, plus the city will pay “the full premium for full health, dental and vision coverage for INTERIM CITY MANAGER and his wife.”

— Deltona will “contribute to a private pension plan an amount equal to the amount that the contribution to the Florida Retirement System would have been if the INTERIM CITY MANAGER participated in the Senior Management Class.”

— The contract provides Deltona will give Chisholm 80 hours — the equivalent of 10 working days — of personal time off, in addition to other paid holidays “with the effective date of this Agreement.”

— Deltona must furnish Chisholm “with a vehicle, including insurance, maintenance, repair and fuel, for the INTERIM CITY MANAGER’s use without restriction of personal use.”

— The city is providing insurance for Chisholm “against any and all losses, damages, judgment, interest, settlements, fines, court costs and other liabilities incurred by, imposed upon or suffered by the INTERIM CITY MANAGER in connection with or resulting from any claim, action, suit or proceeding actual or threatened, arising out of or in connection with the performance of his duties.”

City Attorney Skip Fowler took part in the negotiations for the contract between the Deltona City Commission and Chisholm. City Commissioner Dana McCool represented the commission in the talks. 

McCool was part of the minority that opposed the contract. Commissioners Loren King and David Sosa were the other dissenters.

The majority in favor of the contract were Mayor Heidi Herzberg, Vice Mayor Maritza Avila-Vazquez and Commissioners Anita Bradford and Victor Ramos.

Bradford, McCool and Avila-Vazquez are now part of the new Deltona City Commission. Incoming Mayor Santiago Avila Jr. and City Commissioners Tom Burbank, Jody Lee Storozuk and Stephen Colwell were sworn in Nov. 14. 

With the next municipal election cycle more than a year away, members of the City Commission say they will devote time and energy to finding Deltona’s next permanent manager. 

That search, however it plays out, may take shape soon. The new commission, as a body, must decide such issues as:

— Whether to work with or without a professional headhunter, or executive-search firm,

— Whether or not to appoint a citizens advisory committee to help in screening applications and/or selecting the ideal qualifications for the next manager, and

— Whether to seek out someone locally, regionally or statewide, as opposed to launching a national search.


  1. With Deltona’s history of government disfunction why would anyone want to be the City Manager. No wonder the commission is having to offer a lucrative compensation package because if the CM looks the wrong way they will be gone at the whim of the city commission. Until all the cliques among long term employees and elected officials is dissolved the city will remain in a state of disarray. Even with recent growth Deltona is a joke among other municipalities. Why did Texas Longhorn Steakhouse and Colts Barbecue decide to locate in Orange City rather than the best location on
    I-4 at Howland and I-4 close to Amazon? Because Orange City is friendly to business and they didn’t have to jump through hoops to do business.
    Good luck finding a CM that sticks around.


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