Vice Mayor asks St Augustine Beach City Manager to resign immediately

Monday night during a regular City Commission meeting of the City of St Augustine Beach, Historic City News was able to document a demand from Vice Mayor Kostka for City Manager Max Royle to resign his position immediately.  The demand came in the form of a two-page letter from Kostka to Royle.

During commissioner comments, Kostka read aloud a letter she had sent to Royle earlier that day, outlining the expectations for a city manager as stated in the city’s charter.

“You have not demonstrated the leadership or communication skills necessary to effectively serve as city manager,” she read from her letter. “I therefore respectfully request your resignation.”

Royle’s most recent review had mixed feedback from commissioners. Kostka and George criticized Royle for failing to obtain insurance on the city’s weir, which was damaged during Hurricane Irma. The cost to repair it was a major blow to the city’s recent budget. Royle responded that there was no insurance available for it at the time.

Kostka noted Royle’s absence at weekly Emergency Operations Center meetings, where countywide officials came together to discuss the latest coronavirus response. She said that he failed to provide a plan for the city to follow executive orders passed down by the governor.  Kostka also asked Royle to present a plan for his successor, but Royle did not provide a specific candidate, implying that he had no plans to retire from the position.

Commissioner Undine George agreed that the Commission should discuss Royle’s employment openly. Mayor Margaret England said she was all for having the discussion but was silent on Royle’s performance.  Commissioners Don Samora and Dylan Rumrell added no comment Monday night.

Monday night during a regular City Commission meeting of the City of St Augustine Beach, Historic City News was able to document a demand from Vice Mayor Kostka for City Manager Max Royle to resign his position immediately.  The demand came in the form of a two-page letter from Kostka to Royle.

During commissioner comments, Kostka read aloud a letter she had sent to Royle earlier that day, outlining the expectations for a city manager as stated in the city’s charter.

“You have not demonstrated the leadership or communication skills necessary to effectively serve as city manager,” she read from her letter. “I therefor respectfully request your resignation.”

Royle’s most recent review had mixed feedback from commissioners. Kostka and George criticized Royle for failing to obtain insurance on the city’s weir, which was damaged during Hurricane Irma. The cost to repair it was a major blow to the city’s recent budget. Royle responded that there was no insurance available for it at the time.

Kostka noted Royle’s absence at weekly Emergency Operations Center meetings, where countywide officials came together to discuss the latest coronavirus response. She said that he failed to provide a plan for the city to follow executive orders passed down by the governor.  Kostka also asked Royle to present a plan for his successor, but Royle did not provide a specific candidate, implying that he had no plans to retire from the position.

Commissioner Undine George agreed that the Commission should discuss Royle’s employment openly. Mayor Margaret England said she was all for having the discussion but was silent on Royle’s performance.  Commissioners Don Samora and Dylan Rumrell added no comment Monday night.

The Commission issues annual evaluations for the city manager and the chief of police, the two highest-paid employees at the city.  According to payroll records archived by Historic City News, Royle, who went to work for the City on July 24, 1989, received a salary of $114,225 plus benefits in Fiscal 2019 and did not receive a raise this year due to budget cuts.

The Commission took no action Monday, rather they decided to table it for another meeting in July after the city attorneys could review the conditions of Royle’s employment.

The Commission issues annual evaluations for the city manager and the chief of police, the two highest-paid employees in the city.  According to payroll records archived by Historic City News, Royle, who went to work for the City on July 24, 1989, was receiving a salary of $114,225 plus benefits in Fiscal 2019 and did not receive a raise this year due to budget cuts.

The Commission took no action Monday, rather they decided to table it for another meeting in July after the city attorneys could review the conditions of Royle’s employment.


Text of the letter from Vice Mayor Kostka


June 1, 2020

Maggie Kostka, Vice Mayor

City of St. Augustine Beach

Max Royle, City Manager

City of St. Augustine Beach

Mr. Royle,

This letter is to serve as my official notification to you, the St. Augustine Beach Commission and the citizens of St. Augustine Beach that I, Vice Mayor Maggie Kostka, have no confidence in your ability to serve St. Augustine Beach as City Manager for the reasons set forth below:

Our City of St. Augustine Beach is a Commission-Manager form of government. Pursuant to the Charter of St. Augustine Beach which states in “Sec. 1-4. – Elective officers: (f) All powers of the city shall be vested in the city commission except as otherwise provided by law and this Charter. The city commission shall be responsible for the reasonable exercise of those powers and shall be required to provide for the performance of all duties and obligations imposed on the city by law.”

Additionally, “Sec. 1-8. – City manager: The city manager shall be the chief executive officer of the city, responsible to the city commission for the management of all city affairs placed in the manager’s charge by or under the charter. The city manager shall: (5) See that all laws, provisions of this Charter, and acts of the city commission, subject to enforcement by the city manager or by officers subject to the manager’s direction and supervision, are faithfully executed; (8) Make reports as the city Commission may require concerning operations, (9) Keep the city Commission fully advised as to the financial condition and future needs of the city, (12) Make recommendations to the city commission concerning the affairs of the city and facilitate the work of the city commission in developing policy; (13) Provide staff support services for the mayor and commissioners; (14) Assist the commission to develop long term goals for the city and strategies to implement these goals; (15) Encourage and provide staff support for regional and intergovernmental cooperation; (16) Promote partnerships among the commission, staff, and citizens in developing public policy and building a sense of community; and (17) Perform such other duties as are specified in this Charter or may be required by the city commission.”

The Preamble to our City Charter clearly states “We The people of the City of St. Augustine Beach, Florida, under the constitution and laws of the United States of America and the State of Florida, in order to provide the benefits of local government responsive to the will and values of our citizens, do hereby adopt this Charter to define the powers and structure of our government. By this action, we secure the benefits of home rule and affirm the values of representative democracy, professional management, strong political leadership, citizen participation, and regional cooperation. We believe in an open, responsive government that abides by the highest ethical standards, operates as a careful steward of the human, fiscal, and natural resources of our city; that allows for fair and equitable participation of all persons in the affairs of the city; that provides for transparency, accountability, and ethics in governance; that fosters fiscal responsibility; and that meets the needs of a healthy, progressive city.”

To effectively serve as a City Manager, excellent communication and leadership skills are necessary. There is an increased concern about the lack of effective communication with the Commission, other intergovernmental agencies, and the public, especially during the recent COVID pandemic our city and entire nation experienced.

During any emergency or crisis, citizens look toward leadership for continued assurances, answers, and guidance to help navigate through the issue. It is an opportunity to put our best efforts forward and lead our community. It is also imperative the City Manager provide regular, up to date information and reports to the Commission and the public in a timely manner that addresses the seriousness of the issues surrounding any emergency, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, effective leadership is expected to provide decisive action as well as be able to participate in all/any joint policy making meetings with the other intergovernmental entities, especially the EOC policy committee. These meetings were held at minimum, weekly, which you chose not to attend even one of these important meetings. Furthermore, when Executive Orders are created and passed down from the Governor’s office, it is expected that a plan be created and implemented so the order can be locally executed immediately as stated in every Executive Order, with an effective local plan communicated to the Commission and public.

Many in our community have been seriously concerned about the pandemic since the Presidential declaration of a National State of Emergency on March 17th. It was expected by the Commission and the public that the City Manager would address the issues and concerns as well as disseminate information in a timely manner. Messaging by you Mr. Royle, to the Commission and to the public has been poor at best, and your actions in response to Governor DeSantis’ Executive Orders slow. It is expected by the Commission as well as the public that the City Manager would understand the urgency needed in responding to any crisis, especially the recent COVID-19 crisis. It was only due to the daily communication and actions taken by our chief of police that the commission was made aware of important information, ongoing actions, and planned direction during the crisis. He was also instrumental in taking action to comply with the Executive Orders with an immediate response and plan. Your absence at EOC policy meetings is inexcusable as the purpose of these meetings is to establish consistent communication and create policies between both cities and the county. It is your obligation to provide important information and insight to the committee during decision making and then back to the Commission and the public.

You have not demonstrated the leadership or communication skills necessary to effectively serve as city manager. I, therefore, respectfully request your immediate resignation.