PALM COAST, Fla. — In another shakeup to the government of Flagler County’s largest city, Matthew Morton has resigned as Palm Coast’s city manager, the city announced Thursday.
What You Need To Know
- Matthew Morton resigns as Palm Coast's city manager
- His announcement comes nine days after the mayor's resignation
- The resignations follow reports of 'unruly' city council meetings
The announcement comes nine days after Mayor Milissa Holland resigned, citing a need to care for a daughter who had experienced “extraordinary challenging” health problems, including a liver transplant.
His resignation also follows reports of “unruly” council meetings “and a restive public,” as FlaglerLive.com put it.
On its website, the City of Palm Coast quoted Morton’s resignation letter as saying: “I am proud of all that has been accomplished, which two years successive performance reviews attest to. We have built a citizen focused culture, managed a global pandemic emerging stronger, significantly increased metrics in foundations of livability, transparency, quality of life...”
Morton, who previously worked as city administrator of Duvall, Wash., topped three other finalists for the Palm Coast job in early 2019.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported last month that several high-level city employees had resigned, been fired or received severance agreements since Morton’s hiring.
The newspaper also reported that a city council member — claiming a “partisan political attack” — unsuccessfully moved to fire Morton after the city manager included the city council member’s name on code-enforcement complaints against residents.
Morton did not reply Thursday to a Spectrum News 13 email seeking comment.
“I was surprised. I wasn’t expecting it,” City Council Member Edward Danko told Spectrum News 13, referring to Morton’s resignation. “There’s no good time to lose a city manager, especially after we just lost a mayor. We’re headed into a budget, but we’re all going to have to hunker down.”
City Council Member Victor Barbosa told Spectrum News 13 late Thursday that had received no word from the office of the city manager or city clerk on Morton's resignation.
"This is one of the biggest problems: We don't have communication," he said. "I've tried to call, and nothing. I'm going to have to go into the office tomorrow to see what's going on."
The city council will appoint a new city manager in the coming weeks, the city said.
Eddie Branquinho, who had been vice mayor, is serving as interim mayor until a July 27 special election, after which “we’ll get down to cleaning up this mess,” City Council Member Danko said.
At the time of Mayor Holland’s resignation, FlaglerLive.com reported that city council meetings had become “an unpredictable arena for bellicose discourse, whether among council members or from the audience.”
Holland “remained above the fray,” FlaglerLive.com reported, losing her composure only during a recent meeting in which a man “rushed toward her aggressively.”
The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported last June that two former city employees said the FBI had interviewed them about Holland’s connection to Coastal Cloud, a business-services tech company that the newspaper said employed Holland and did work for the city.
Amanda W. Videll, a spokeswoman at the FBI’s Jacksonville office, told Spectrum News 13 in an email Thursday that the FBI "declines to confirm nor deny the existence or status of an investigation."
Palm Coast is a city of about 90,000 people about 60 miles south of Jacksonville.