CLEARWATER — Gerald Seeber, who has been in charge of running Tampa Bay Water for five years, is ready to move on from what he once called "a really cool job."
Seeber, the wholesale utility's general manager, has not resigned — not yet. But he has notified the utility's board that he's looking to return to a city government job somewhere, the board members revealed during their meeting Monday.
Why quit? "I like working at a regional level," Seeber explained after the meeting. "But I miss interacting with John Q. Public."
Seeber said he particularly misses cutting ribbons for new municipal parks, where "kids are watching the construction every day, waiting to get in there to play. Cutting the ribbon for a new surface water treatment plant — it's not the same."
Seeber spent nearly 16 years as New Port Richey's city manager before he quit in 2004 to become city manager of Oviedo, a town about 10 miles from Orlando. There, he made $135,662 a year. Tampa Bay Water hired him in 2008 for $168,000 a year. He currently makes $176,400 a year, he said.
Seeber's contract requires him to give the utility board three months' notice. By alerting them well in advance, he said, the board will have plenty of time to select his replacement. Board members agreed to advertise for a new general manager, but to hold off hiring an executive search firm.
Seeber is Tampa Bay Water's second general manager. The first, Jerry Maxwell, retired in 2008 after 12 years at the helm.
Seeber counts as his greatest accomplishments the final completion of the utility's troubled desalination plant, the commencing of repairs of its cracked reservoir, Tampa Bay Water's solid bond rating and the fact that it didn't raise rates last year and probably won't this year. There have been rough spots too, though, most notably the utility's loss last year of a lawsuit against the company that designed the reservoir.
Board members praised Seeber's work and wished him well, although Tampa City Council member Charlie Miranda joked about Seeber's desire to return to working in local government, calling it "loco government. Loco in Spanish means 'crazy.' "
Craig Pittman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.