Gulfport and Indian Rocks Beach have embarked on what could become lengthy searches for new city managers, as well as key administrative personnel.
Gulfport's former City Manager Tom Brobeil resigned a month ago after taking an extended medical leave in September. His resignation came just a few weeks after the forced resignation of former City Clerk Donna Spano, who had missed a month of work also due to illness.
Indian Rocks Beach has been without a city manager for about a year and is also looking to replace City Treasurer Marty Schless, who was fired in mid October amid growing criticism of his financial management of the city.
Both cities appointed interim city managers from within. Neither wants the permanent job.
The Gulfport City Council appears to be in no rush to replace Brobeil, who was hired in 2003.
"If we could find somebody by October 2009, we will be in good shape," said Mayor Michael Yakes last month.
At its Nov. 18 meeting, the council authorized interim City Manager Jim O'Reilly to begin the process of finding a professional firm to help the city search for a city manager.
"We should really take our time and make sure we are not jumping into another fire," said council member Bob Worthington.
The city appears to want someone with strong Florida experience, particularly with full service, waterfront communities.
"From past experience, we have never gotten a viable candidate from outside Florida," said council member Judy Ryerson.
Meanwhile, the city set a 4:30 p.m., Friday deadline for candidates to apply for the city clerk position. So far, more than 30 resumes have been received, but only two are certified clerks, according to Jennifer Valdes, the city's human resources director.
The city wants an experienced, certified municipal clerk and is willing to pay up to $84,000 for the job.
Again, advertisements were limited to local and state media.
"We need to get somebody in here who knows how to run the tractor," said Worthington.
The council also made clear that it will require the new clerk to sign a contract that will specify duties — and terms for termination.
Spano was forced to resign amid charges of incompetence and excessive absences. Because she did not have a contract with the city, Yakes negotiated an agreement that granted her $25,000 in severance pay.
"This time we will have a clerk with a contract. We do not need to make that mistake again," said Yakes.
Indian Rocks Beach
Indian Rocks Beach is hoping its poor luck in finding and retaining competent city managers will finally change.
About a year ago, it appointed its planning and zoning director, Danny Taylor, to serve as interim city manager following the heated resignation of former City Manager Steve Cottrell.
"I took the job against my better judgement, and now I regret making that decision. The commission has treated me like a piece of dog meat," Cottrell said when he resigned.
Cottrell was the fourth city manager to serve the city in about as many years.
He replaced Al Grieshaber Jr., who left a year earlier under a financial cloud. The commission's dispute over money paid Grieshaber for compensatory time and relocation expenses has now become an unresolved court case.
John Coffey served as the city's manager from 2003 until 2005 when he resigned after coming under sharp criticism for his handling of the firing and subsequent rehiring of a popular building official.
The last city manager who left on good terms with the Indian Rocks Beach commission was, ironically, Brobeil — who resigned in 2003 to become Gufport's city manager.
Now, the commission hopes the Range Riders, a group of former city managers, can help the city find a permanent city manager.
The city is also looking for a city treasurer to replace Marty Schless. He was fired for what the commission said was incompetence in handling the city's finances.