BRADENTON, Fla. — Just one month after renewing the contract of the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority’s executive director, the agency will replace him.
Max Crumit admitted to the board overseeing central Florida’s high-profile agency Wednesday that he has been “exploring” potential job opportunities. However, he said he did not have any job offers or a timeframe for stepping down as executive director.
In July, the board voted to renew his contract for another year, which Crumit accepted.
Board member Scott Batterson said Crumit had made clear for some time that he intended to search for another job, and the Expressway Authority needs “someone invested for the long term.”
The subject of the director’s departure turned into a lengthy, often accusatory discussion with board member Teresa Jacobs, who is also mayor of Orange County, saying that she felt the underlying issue had to do with the June resignation of chief financial officer Nita Crowder.
Crowder, who had been the agency’s CFO since 2006 and comptroller from 2000 to 2006, remains on staff as a financial consultant through Dec. 12.
OOCEA Michelle Maikisch spokeswoman said Thursday that the search for a new CFO is underway “with no definite due date.”
At the time of Crowder’s resignation the authority only said her departure was the result of a mutual decision between her and Crumit.
“Here we have someone who apparently has done nothing but good things, and she’s gone,” Batterson said, referring to Crowder.
The termination of key staff members should be discussed with the board before action takes place, he added.
Jacobs said it would be premature to search for a new executive director, and if necessary the board should schedule further discussion about Crowder’s resignation, and Crumit’s decision to apparently require it.
Crumit told the board that someone he did not name had asked him to resign or be voted out of his job by a majority of board members. He did not want to remain executive director if the board did not support him, he said Wednesday.
Batterson and new board member Marco Pena said Crumit had done a good job, but the authority should seek a new director.
The board should move forward searching for a new CFO, and keep Crumit on staff to maintain stability, argued Jacobs, who also said she had confidence in Crumit.
“The CFO is a very important position,” said Jacobs, who has been a staunch critic of the OOCEA’s bond portfolio and the previous board’s heavy reliance on variable-rate debt and swaps. She said the board needs confidence in the CFO and the handling of finances, and bonds have been the agency’s “biggest problem.”
The board voted to search for a new executive director, and required that hiring decisions be confirmed by the board.
Jacobs has been a proponent of restructuring the board’s riskier debt, which has been under way for several years.
On Wednesday, the Expressway Authority board unanimously approved refunding the agency’s 2003D variable-rate demand bonds, and $110 million of fixed-rate refunding bonds will be privately placed with STI Institutional & Government Inc., a subsidiary of SunTrust Bank.
The contract for Greenberg Traurig PA and Debi V. Rumpf to continue serving as disclosure counsel was also renewed.
The authority has a $706 million capital improvement plan, and expects to be in the bond market with its next financing next year.
Its bonds are rated A by Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s, and A2 by Moody’s Investors Service.
The Expressway Authority had about $2.6 billion of outstanding debt at the end of fiscal 2012.