NEW PORT RICHEY – In a surprise move, Deputy Mayor Bill Phillips told his colleagues he will apply for the open New Port Richey city manager job.
At the end of a budget hearing Monday, during a time set aside for City Council members to make general comments, Phillips asked Mayor Bob Consalvo if he could address the council from a podium usually reserved for public comment.
Phillips told the council he wanted the board to "hear it from him and no one else" that he will seek the city manager post. Phillips went on to list reasons he believes he is qualified for the job, before offering his reason for his decision. He choked up with emotion. "This is my city and has always been the place I call home," he said.
Phillips' plan is going to create some legal hurdles. He said he doesn't have to resign his seat to apply for the position, which he will officially do before the Oct. 4 deadline. But he will have to recuse himself from city votes once he files his application while the council considers candidates for the position, he said.
"I'm going to keep my council seat," he told the Tampa Bay Times.
Consalvo said Phillips' announcement "surprised" him, adding that he would need to review the deputy mayor's full application and background, along with any other candidates who apply, before making a decision on the position.
"I was really surprised. In my 30 years in various capacities with the city, I have never a council member do something like that," Consalvo said. "I know his heart is with the city and he puts in a lot as deputy mayor."
The council reopened its search for a city manager last week with several members, including Phillips, expressing disappointment with candidates who applied the first go-round. The council has pledged to complete interviews by the end of October.