Fruitland Park interim city manager resigns after six weeks

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FRUITLAND PARK, Fla. —

The interim city manager of Fruitland Park is off the job just six weeks after he started.

Stephen Cottrell said he stepped aside because he was simply too controversial.

Channel 9 obtained a copy of a resignation letter from Cottrell to the Fruitland Park mayor. He wrote, "It has become clearly apparent to both of us that we have profoundly disparate philosophies as to the appropriate role, responsibilities and authority of a city manager."

Mayor Chris Bell agreed.

"We wanted somebody that would help everything move a little smoother and you know, (we’re) not sure he was the man," Bell said.

Bell said Cottrell did little to fix things in the troubled city.

"What he was doing was trying to figure out the problems of the city by going in and creating controversy," Bell said.

The mayor didn't cite specific incidents.

Ralph Bowers, the man Cottrell replaced, also made a controversial exit earlier this year.

Bowers resigned after he was accused of forcing a female employee to have sex with him.

Prosecutors determined there wasn't enough evidence to file charges.

Residents said they aren't surprised by this most recent drama.

"There's too much bickering. I think there's always a little power play going on between this one and that one," Lake County resident Sarah Mattox said.

"I think some of the issues are certainly concerning and warrant being looked into," Fruitland Park resident Matt King said.

Now Police Chief Terry Isaacs will juggle the responsibilities of that job and stand in as city manager until a permanent replacement is found in the next couple of months.

Channel 9 learned Cottrell made around $85,000 a year and will get two weeks of pay, $3,300, for leaving early.

Cottrell declined to comment.