Indian Trail Improvement District Administrator Tanya Quickel submitted a letter of resignation Monday after months of strife with members of the ITID Board of Supervisors.
The tersely worded letter simply stated, “This letter serves as a notice of termination of the district administrator’s contract pursuant to Section XIII C. The 60-day notice of termination will end on Aug. 9, 2013 unless the district elects an earlier date.”
Recently elected Supervisor Gary Dunkley, who has called for a forensic audit of the district’s books, said Tuesday that he had just learned of Quickel’s resignation.
“I would have to do more research before I make a comment,” Dunkley said. “There’s no rhyme or reason for this. It was unexpected. She was a good administrator. The only thing I question is the timing because we’re about to have a forensic audit.”
Supervisor Michelle Damone, who urged Quickel’s hiring in 2010 after a succession of short-lived administrators who were deemed unsatisfactory, pointed out that the district has had flawless audits in the past two years since Quickel look over.
“It is a disservice to the taxpayers of the Indian Trail Improvement District,” Damone said. “Tanya is highly talented, highly qualified, and has done some wonderful things for the district and its residents.”
Damone said Quickel’s departure follows a long line of changes to administrative staff since the new board majority — made up of President Jennifer Hager, Vice President Carol Jacobs and Dunkley — took over. Those departures include former Operations & Maintenance Director Tony Las Casas and former Finance Director Emily Poundstone. The board majority recently replaced its engineering contractor, Engenuity Group, and has indicated it is considering replacing its legal firm, Caldwell & Pacetti.
“Her resignation letter is short, but since last year’s election, the meetings have been on sensitive topics, and honestly, they’ve been insulting to the administration staff, specifically when the board voted to pursue a forensic audit when the regular audit doesn’t show any significant discrepancies,” Damone said.
She also pointed out that at the beginning of the year, the board majority, led by Jacobs, tried to renegotiate Quickel’s contract to give her less responsibility, which she refused. Quickel offered instead to leave under a settlement agreement, which did not get majority approval of the board.
“Ms. Quickel made an effort to remain at the district, but it has just become a hostile environment for her to work in,” Damone said, adding, “It took a lot to get a district administrator of her caliber. It’s going to take a while to regain that opportunity again.”
Hager said she is trying to call a special meeting to address Quickel’s resignation.
“I assume we’re going to be back to the point where we were if she had agreed to termination in January,” Hager told the Town-Crier on Tuesday. “I need to get consensus from the board as to whether they want to keep her through what she agreed to, which is 60 days, I think that’s Aug. 9, or sooner. It’s the board’s decision. I’m assuming we’re going to come to some sort of consensus after we’re able to discuss it openly. I’m still scheduling a date [for the meeting].”
Quickel said that under the terms of the contract, she does not anticipate a settlement agreement.
In a prepared statement, she wrote that since coming to ITID, the challenge has been to accomplish the board’s goals and objectives, incorporating modern technology and solid, proven procedures wherever possible, while re-establishing ITID’s strong reputation of professionalism and teamwork.
“It was an honor to work with the great staff here and the majority of the board, including former Supervisor Carlos Enriquez,” she wrote. “It is also critical that we addressed ethical concerns and produced two years of annual audits resulting in no management letter comments.”
She pointed out that the district was able to receive reimbursements of $1.7 million for Tropical Storm Isaac expenditures, as well as $4 million in the state budget for the new J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area levee system.
“My term with staff includes years of fiscally responsible budgets that include appropriate capital projects, funding plans, assessment decreases and sound procedures,” she wrote.
Quickel pointed to accomplishments such as the completion of agreements worked on for more than 10 years that resulted in the construction of the new Acreage library, and a phased program for completion of the Acreage Community Park southern expansion. The district also doubled the number of quarter-mile roads that are improved each year, and she noted that ITID has been awarded $200,000 worth of grants to date with $900,000 anticipated for 2014.
Quickel added that decades of water problems in The Acreage could be addressed if ITID stands behind the L-8 Pilot Pump Project, which was proposed by West Palm Beach representatives and former ITID engineering firm Engenuity Group. The project, rejected by the board earlier this year, would permanently establish secondary isolation for the Corbett area by building a permanent pump station at the L and M canals, if the board would reconsider the revised proposal, she said.
“I extend best wishes to the board in their future endeavors and appreciation for the work accomplished since December 2009,” Quickel wrote. “I also thank the staff for the honor of working with these tremendously dedicated employees who are truly the backbone of the district.”