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County Financial Chief Resigns

Jeff Seward becomes the latest casualty over procurement errors.

Sarasota County’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Seward resigned this morning. “I feel the current situation of organizational change and dynamics warrants my resignation,” the letter says.

Seward becomes the fifth manager or supervisor to resign in the aftermath of procurement problems in the county. He was placed on administrative leave last Thursday by Interim County Administrator Terry Lewis, who said then he would make a decision about Seward’s future today. The letter was addressed to Sarasota County commissioners and Lewis.

Seward was far more than a bookkeeper. His department develops the county budget (and won another award for its presentation last week), economic development (including funding for the rowing venue and baseball stadium renovation), safety/risk assessment for the county’s self-insurance program, oversight of the benefit/wellness program (leading to an almost unheard-of reduction in the county’s health care costs), and the ill-starred procurement department.

After seven years on the job, Seward said, “I am proud of the many great things we have accomplished over this period of time, and that you have allowed us to guide the organization in a fiscally sustainable fashion."

Lewis reassigned some of Seward’s responsibilities last Thursday. Steve Botelho will take over the budgeting function, and Bill Little (from Health and Human Services) will assume command of procurement.

The news of Seward’s resignation spread like wildfire through the ranks of county employees this morning.

The letter concludes by saying, “I wish nothing but goodwill and god speed as you face the challenges that a few ‘bad apple’ employees have created. This miniority has captured the attention of the press and the zealots in the community who tear down, instead of working collaboratively to build up. The majority of your employees are hardworking , dedicated and committed individuals doing what they can everyday for the Citizens of Sarasota County. I hope that doesn’t get lost in the noise.”

Seward is a veteran of the U.S. Navy as a qualified nuclear submariner who served on ballistic missile submarines.

Suzette Jones July 18, 2011 at 03:14 PM
Jeff Seward was a true professional. My very small interaction with him was through an economic incentive project I was representing for a client. He was smart, knowledgeable and accessible. An unfortunate result of the recent financial county practices.
Bob Kirscher July 18, 2011 at 03:36 PM
In my relationship with Jeff through TDC and TEDB, my opinion of Mr. Seward is a man of great integrity and totally profesional
Sharon Cunningham July 18, 2011 at 09:48 PM
Jeff Seward is a true professional and I don't believe the County Commissioners and Mr. Lewis should accept his resignation. He was great to work with on the Festival Steering Committee and the TDC Board. I think he will be a great loss to Sarasota County's government. Sharon Cunningham

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