Tuesday, February 20, 2018
News Roundup

Indian Rocks Beach narrows manager list to seven

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH — City commissioners chose seven candidates representing a variety of experiences, specialties and backgrounds to advance in the search for the next city manager.

"They had an outstanding group of candidates," said Mark Durbin, a retired city manager who now helps local governments find their managerial matches. Of the 10 searches in which he has assisted, Durbin said the process in Indian Rocks Beach has been one of the easiest.

The city received 60 applicants for the position vacated by Chuck Coward on May 31 after four years as the city's chief administrator. A screening committee composed of Coward and two members of the Florida City and County Management Association's Range Rider program recommended 11 applicants for review by the commission, which narrowed that field to six.

During the May 28 meeting, the commission added Danny Taylor, planning and zoning director, to the list as a professional courtesy, commission members said.

Candidates will be interviewed June 18 starting at 9 a.m. for one hour each at City Hall.

"I was real impressed with the commissioners," Durbin said. "They seem to work well together. They seem to genuinely like each other, which is important. They disagreed, but they made their disagreements agreeable."

The next manager will be the seventh since Mayor R.B. Johnson was elected to the commission in 2000. He is looking for a manager with city management experience, someone with the ability to push back against the commission without being inflammatory. "I don't want a candidate that needs training wheels," he said.

In contrast, Commissioner Joanne "Cookie" Kennedy said she sees this as a chance to bring in a first-time manager to foster new ideas. "I think it'd be nice to get someone fresh and new," Kennedy said at a previous meeting.

Commissioner Terry Hamilton-Wollin preferred a larger group to interview, saying every applicant looks good on their applications. "When I can look them in the eye, then I'll decide," she said.

Coward recommended commissioners take the scale of applicants' previous jobs into account. Indian Rocks Beach doesn't manage a fire department and contracts its police services from the county, and has a yearly budget of around $3 million. "That's a fairly limited scale," he said.

Coward recommended the next manager have strong project management skills because of the city's full slate of ongoing and upcoming capital projects; public works experience; and direct personnel management skills. "There's not much length between the top and the bottom" in a city the size of Indian Rocks Beach, he said, which operates with 30 full-time and three part-time employees.

Durbin and Coward also told commissioners they aren't just interviewing candidates, but are being interviewed in turn. As the list tightens, top applicants gain bargaining power, which could lead to a higher salary. Coward called each of the 11 candidates and was told by each they were content with a salary between $95,000 and $105,000, significantly less than what some of the candidates earn or have earned in the past.

Commissioners passed on one of the 11 applicants because in the conversation with Coward, he asked mostly about other forms of compensation in addition to salary.

"Some people were out there smoking the drapes," said Commissioner Phil Hanna at some candidates' salary requirements, though commissioners agreed that the next manager might be willing to take a pay cut to live in "one of the sweetest towns on the planet," as Commissioner Jim Labadie said.

"There is no such thing as a perfect candidate," Coward told the commission, but a new manager could allow for changes in the government's structure to suit the manager's strengths. For example, a manager with strong public works experience — the city's largest department with two-thirds of its workforce — could allow for the next manager to double as the public works director, especially in light of the upcoming retirement of current director Dean Scharmen.

To cover the manager's responsibilities during the search, Scharman will manage ongoing capital projects and the contract with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. Finance director Dan Carpenter will handle personnel issues, the lawsuit against BP and other issues inside City Hall. For the extra duties, the men will be paid an additional $1,000 per month until the next manager or interim manager is hired.

Durbin, who was Kissimmee's city manager for 23 years, will continue to assist the commission as it continues to narrow the field.

Comments
Girl, 12, sister of murder victim, calls relative after being reported missing

Girl, 12, sister of murder victim, calls relative after being reported missing

Seven months ago, Jalyssa Shannon’s older sister Janessa went missing, sparking a frantic search that ended with the discovery of the 13-year-old’s body in a Hillsborough County nature preserve and, later, the arrest of the girls’ father in her murde...
Updated: 6 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Feb. 19

Monday’s scoreboardSoftballSpringstead 11, Central 0
Updated: 7 hours ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Mon., Feb. 19, midday:46 278 6907e_SRit78769Mon., Feb. 19, evening:59 597 4363e_SRit97936Fantasy 5Mon., Feb. 19...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Updated: 7 hours ago
Water Wars starting to simmer again in Tampa Bay

Water Wars starting to simmer again in Tampa Bay

CLEARWATER — A simmering feud between Tampa and the regional water authority avoided boiling over Monday, but little was resolved.At a Tampa Bay Water meeting, board members requested Tampa work with the agency on the city’s plan to convert tens of m...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust U.S. indictment

Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust U.S. indictment

Associated PressST. PETERSBURG, Russia — While Russian officials scoff at a U.S. indictment charging 13 Russians with meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, several people who worked at the same St. Petersburg, Russia, "troll factory" say t...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Man sought in sexual assault of woman, 71, in New Port Richey

Man sought in sexual assault of woman, 71, in New Port Richey

NEW PORT RICHEY — Deputies are searching for a man who they said broke into a home and raped a 71-year-old woman on Monday.The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said the woman was checking on a home at 7437 Heather St. for the homeowner at about 8:15 a.m...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Trump offers support for limited effort on background checks

Trump offers support for limited effort on background checks

Associated PressWEST PALM BEACH — From the confines of his Mar-a-Lago golf club, President Donald Trump offered support Monday for a limited strengthening of federal background checks on gun purchases while staying largely mum in the past few days ab...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Puerto RicoJudge grants $300M loan for power companyA federal judge on Monday approved a $300 million loan for Puerto Rico’s power company that officials say will help keep the troubled agency operating until late March. The judge had originally reje...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Grief-filled funerals also can be cathartic

Grief-filled funerals also can be cathartic

PARKLAND — Each funeral for the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High massacre is different, yet the same: the mourning relatives, teens walking in clutches wearing black, politicians paying their respects, media cameras pointing at the entran...
Updated: 9 hours ago