The shake-up at Town Hall on Fort Myers Beach continues as Town Public Works Director Cathie Lewis is no longer the head of the department after a reported resignation. The action happened Monday, just before 1 p.m.
According to Town public records, Lewis was in a meeting with two other Town officials when she was notified of a change in staffing. A short email from Town Manager Don Stilwell to Council members briefly addressed the situation.
"This morning Cathie Lewis, (Director of Finance) Evelyn Wicks and I has a conversation regarding the future of public works in the Town," Stilwell wrote. "At the conclusion of the meeting it was resolved that Scott Baker is the new Public Works Director."
Cathie Lewis (center) is no longer Public Works Director or part of the Town staff after a reported resignation.
Stilwell confirmed Lewis' resignation by phone Tuesday. He said she will stay on to complete a parking study for the Town.
"She is a very hard-working person and will be finishing up a couple of small projects that we have, but she has left the Town of Fort Myers Beach as far as employment," he said.
Lewis had been the Town deputy public works director before being appointed to the public works director position by then-PWD Jack Green, who was promoted to interim town manager in late July 2009 after then-Town manager Scott Janke was dismissed.
Baker was the deputy PWD under Lewis during her department head role. In April 2012, Baker was arrested for an outstanding warrant from the state of Michigan related to an embezzlement case. He was the PWD for the Town of Center Line, Michigan at the alleged incident. The case was dismissed in May 2013, due to insufficient evidence by prosecutors.
This marks the second Town director in just over a month to be let go. Community Development Director Walter Fluegel was terminated on April 2.
Prior to Fluegel's departure, that Town department had been depleted with the exits of its zoning coordinator and contracts manager.
Before being elected into office, Councilwoman Summer Stockton had been critical and questioned some of the building permits issued by the Town Community Development Department. She is currently seeking information to see if the Town is better off contracting out building department work.
"I have asked for numbers as far as what we receive as permits and what we put out as salaries," Stockton said. "I want to explore contracting out to Lee County or elsewhere, but I have questions first. I don't think we are functioning right. It's one thing to be government-lite and save money, but if we are not getting the quality, why spend the money."
At the present time, the community development department does not have a director nor a zoning coordinator. The public works department is without a deputy public works director.
"We realize we have some vacancies," said Stilwell. "We will look at those. We have a tremendous amount of work load with a very small staff, so we have to be very careful and place staff in the right roles to get the work done."