TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn has named Water Department director Brad Baird the city's new administrator of public works and utility services.
Baird, a professional engineer who has worked for the city for 31 years, will replace Mike Herr, who is leaving to become city manager in Plant City.
"From stormwater to wastewater, I doubt there is anyone who knows more about the city of Tampa's utilities systems than Brad," Buckhorn said. He described Baird as "proactive and solutions-oriented."
Baird's new job will entail coordinating and directing five city departments: contract administration, transportation and stormwater services, water, wastewater and solid waste and environmental program management.
Baird, 55, graduated from the University of Florida in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering. Prior to becoming water director, he was the deputy director of the Wastewater Department, where he oversaw a program that saved the city more than $10 million by changing work practices as well as the size and the structure of the organization. Staffing at the sewage treatment plant, for example, went from 205 with 40 supervisors to 156 with 16 leaders.
He also has served as project manager for more than $250 million in wastewater, stormwater and reclaimed water capital improvements.
Baird has run the Water Department since 2006. During that time, he oversaw a 5-year water pipeline replacement program, an expansion of the reclaimed water system, several reorganizations to reduce costs and improve customer service, and a program to restore the flow of fresh water on the lower Hillsborough River to nearly what it was before the city's dam was built.
"You can see a difference in the aquatic wildlife," he said.
Baird will serve as interim administrator until the City Council confirms his appointment as required by the city charter. He currently is paid about $131,000 annually, but his salary in his new position is yet to be determined.