Published On: Thu, Oct 29th, 2020

Hearing on decision to fire Delray city manager moved to Nov. 20

By: Dale King

Suspended Delray Beach City Manager George Gretsas has retained new counsel, forcing a postponement of about a month for the hearing at which he will present his side of the case. The City Commission is seeking to fire him. 

A 38-page report prepared by the city’s internal auditor, Julia Davidyan, alleges that Gretsas, who had worked for the city barely six months when he was suspended on June 24, purportedly violated statutes and local policies in the course of performing his work for the city. 

The hearing, which will be conducted in the manner of a trial, was originally scheduled for Oct. 23. City spokesman Gina Carter said in a recent email: “The morning of Oct. 21, the city attorney was notified that Mr. Gretsas had retained new counsel. At that time, they also requested the hearing be postponed. The afternoon of the 21,st the [City] Commission held a special meeting and voted to set the new date of Nov. 20th. As of the end of business Oct. 23, Mr. Gretsas’s status was changed to suspended without pay.”

Prior to Oct. 23, Gretsas had been receiving his annual salary of $265,000, along with a fringe-benefit package worth more than $50,000.

The latest set of charges against Gretsas differ from those that resulted in his suspension at a special City Commission meeting June 24. During the June session, it was alleged that he had bullied and harassed several city employees, including then-Assistant City Manager Suzanne Fisher, resulting in her going on medical leave May 15. She has since resigned.

Exactly two months later, at a meeting of city commissioners Aug. 24, they voted 5-0 that Gretsas allegedly engaged in “instances of misconduct” that warranted his firing.  But in the process, the five city leaders decided not to include the charges of “bullying and retaliation” that were brought against him at the June 24 meeting.  

The charges from the August meeting were from the Davidyan report, and included a claim that Gregsas had a server installed in his office that was not part of the city’s computer system and could not print out files such as those that might be required to meet the filing of an FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request.

The internal auditor’s report also said that Gretsas had hired two workers that he knew from his previous job as city manager in Homestead. The report also said he paid those employees wages higher than those set by Delray municipal standards.

Following the Nov. 20 hearing, commissioners can either fire Gretsas, with or without cause, or reinstate him. Another option is to direct the city’s staff to negotiate a severance agreement. 

The wording of Gretsas’ contract with the city required him to have two hearings before ruling on the accusations against him – each hearing at least 60 days apart. One was needed to outline the accusations; the second, to hear Gretsas’ side of the case. 

In documents previously sent to city officials, the suspended city manager said he has done nothing wrong but is being punished for pointing out alleged problems with the city’s water supply. 

Gretsas was hired as city manager in January 2020 to replace Mark Lauzier, who was fired on March 19, 2019. An interim city manager was appointed to fill in during the period city officials were searching for a replacement.

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