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Former St. Pete Budget Director Accused of Ethics Violations

The violations center around Matt Spoor's brief time in St. Petersburg as its budget director and his return to Safety Harbor.

A national group has accused Safety Harbor city manager Matt Spoor of ethics violations for his sudden departure from the city of St. Petersburg as director of management and budget and his re-hire with the city of Safety Harbor.

The International City/County Management Association said Spoor violated ethics by not staying two years at his position in St. Pete and for calling Safety Harbor city manager candidates as he was seeking to be re-hired.

Spoor spent just six weeks on the job in St. Petersburg before deciding to bolt back to Safety Harbor, where he was previously its city manager.

Safety Harbor City Council voted 5-0 to re-hire him.

According to the report by The International City/County Management Association:

“While Spoor was considering his options (to return to Safety Harbor), he contacted two of the city manager finalists in Safety Harbor, which resulted in one of the candidates withdrawing from the process.

“The board concluded that Spoor inappropriately interfered in the recruitment process. The city council in Safety Harbor ultimately decided to bring Spoor back to the city to serve as the manager. That was certainly their prerogative. But from a professional perspective, Spoor’s conduct failed to uphold the integrity standards outlined in Tenets 2, 3, and 4 of the ICMA Code of Ethics. First of all, he had an ethical obligation to ensure that making the change to St. Petersburg would be a good professional fit where he would commit to rendering the professional tenure of two years. When Spoor failed in that effort, he should have limited his interaction in the Safety Harbor recruitment process to those elected and appointed officials who contacted him.”

Patch contacted Spoor regarding the accusations, and he had this to say about the situation:

"I respect ICMA and look forward to moving past the events of early 2012. My focus is on the daily management and operation of Safety Harbor, our incredible residents and the numerous dedicated employees. A renewed sense of positive energy is the very least I owe them for the support they offered me upon my return in February 2012."

In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, former Safety Harbor Mayor Andy Steingold said he did not think Spoor acted unethically.

"I've always encouraged people to go forward with upward mobility," Steingold, told the Times. "Part of his going to St. Pete was his personal growth. He didn't leave the city in a lurch … Things were not as they were made out to be for him in St. Pete.” 

According to a February 2012 Times report, after his return to Safety Harbor, Spoor said, “My decision is a result of having to admit to myself that while my employment left Safety Harbor, my heart never did. During my tenure I developed a love and admiration for the city, its residents and staff. It is rare that a man is given a second chance after making a decision. I am honored and appreciative that the City Commission of Safety Harbor has given me that second chance."

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