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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Dunedin commission suspends search for new city manager

The Dunedin commission responsible for ousting former City Manager Rob DiSpirito in January has unanimously decided to hold off its search for a replacement and let new commissioners, set to be elected in November, pick up the pieces.

Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski said the recent search the city did using a consulting agency called The Mercer Group yielded 87 applicants, but the commissioners were less than impressed with the results.

"The caliber of the applicant pool just didn't fit for Dunedin," she said. "Most of the top 10 candidates didn't have the type of experience we were looking for."

Bujalski said some applicants had never been a city manager. Others had, but only in a very small cities, and some even had background issues. She said the city is looking for a very "seasoned professional" to fill the spot.

The city originally agreed to pay The Mercer Group more than $14,000 to find a replacement, but since no one was chosen, only had to fork up a little more than $4,500.

The mayor said the poor selection of candidates could be a result of what happened with DiSpirito.

"The 417 city managers around the state talk," she said. "With the departure of (DiSpirito) and the kind of community backlash around that... It was just too fresh, and I think all of that needs to die down."

She said the limited results could also be because of the upcoming election.

"Candidates know there is an election coming up with three contested seats," she said. "No one wants to come into a job that way."

Bujalski said the city expects to pick back up with a search in spring of 2017. Interim City Manager Doug Hutchens, who has filled the spot since DiSpirito resigned but declined to do so permanently, has agreed to stay until then.

[Last modified: Friday, May 20, 2016 4:01pm]


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