By Mary Thurwachter
There were cheers as Lantana’s new mayor was sworn in on March 22, later followed by tears as the announcement was made that Deborah Manzo, the town’s manager, was resigning to become the administrator of Okeechobee County.
Some of those tears came from Robert Hagerty, the new mayor himself.
Hagerty supporters filled the council chambers and, due to coronavirus limits on the crowd inside, some of them had to settle for outdoor seating. They gave him enthusiastic applause. But after reading Manzo’s letter of resignation at the end of the meeting, Hagerty became emotional.
“She started here in 2012,” he said, “the same year I was promoted” to police commander. “All I can say is thank you for all your dedication, thank you for your mentorship and your friendship. I wish you all the best.”
A teary-eyed Manzo said her last day would be June 19 — 90 days from the date she tendered her resignation.
“We will miss Debbie, but I’m also very happy for her,” said Town Attorney Max Lohman, who made the announcement of Manzo’s impending departure. “It’s a fabulous opportunity and it would be selfish of me to say ‘how dare you leave?’”
In her resignation letter, Manzo wrote that she had “gratitude and mixed emotions” about leaving.
“Over the past nine years, I have spent the majority of my time devoted to the town of Lantana, its citizens, town officials, staff and affiliates of Palm Beach County government. I am so thankful for the opportunity that Lantana provided me,” she wrote. “I always want to leave my employer in a better place than when I arrived and through working with the wonderful staff, I think I have achieved that goal.”
Manzo, who has more than 35 years’ experience working in municipal government, accepted the town manager position in 2012 at an annual salary of $97,476 and, with glowing performance reviews over the years, she leaves making $159,000.
Manzo previously was the assistant city manager in Greenacres.