Saturday, September 22, 2018
News Roundup

Brooksville offers city manager job, will begin negotiations

BROOKSVILLE — After a day of interviews and a meet-and-greet with city residents, the Brooksville City Council has offered Mark Kutney, the former town manager of Loxahatchee Groves, the job of city manager.

Prior to what ended up a unanimous decision during a special council meeting last Friday, council members discussed a variety of issues before giving Mayor Robert Battista and a representative from the law firm representing the city the go-ahead to negotiate a contract with Kutney. The contract will come back to the council in mid October.

Salary ranges were not discussed, but council members did talk about travel reimbursement, evaluation criteria and phasing in severance pay at the beginning of the employment term.

Kutney, 63, one of three finalists in Brooksville, served as town manager of Loxahatchee Groves from 2011 to 2014 and deputy city manager of Belle Glade from 2007 to 2011. He has a bachelor's degree in social science and urban affairs from Wilkes University and master's degrees in regional planning from Penn State University and in public administration from Florida Atlantic University.

During his public interview, Kutney talked about his wide range of experience in city management, emergency management and even airport management. He called himself a "quick study'' and responded to a question about why he wanted to work in Brooksville by saying the city had been on his radar screen and had interested him for some time.

And while the city has had its share of difficulties, including numerous discussions this summer about the 2017-18 budget, Kutney said, "I do love challenges.''

He said he was excited about taking on a "full-service city,'' but also aware that the council has been considering paring services do deal with its budget issues. He said he has been thinking about a 10-year plan for Brooksville, developing strategies for short-, medium- and long-term goals.

When asked by council member Bill Kemerer about his financial experience and ideas, Kutney said that the outsourcing of services "is an option you never take off the table.'' But he also said that if the city finds someone better and cheaper to provide a service, it would be important to try to get the new provider to take on as many of the former city employees as it could.

He told the council that he has never been terminated, discharged or asked to resign from a position and that "I offer you a complete package.''

In his application for the job, he wrote that he is "a critical thinker and a problem solver. My weakness may be a candid honesty that I bring to the job.''

The other two finalists were Bill Ed Cannon, who has been Wildwood city manager since 2012, and William Whitson, who has been city manager of Hapeville, Ga., for the last two years.

Lyndon Bonner has been serving as interim manager for the past several months. The council voted in February to not renew its contract with Jennene Norman-Vacha, who served as manager for 10 years.

Contact Barbara Behrendt at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

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