MADEIRA BEACH — After months of controversy and debate, residents here may learn Friday who will become the new city manager.
Three finalists will be interviewed by the commission and residents during a two-hour workshop beginning at 4 p.m.
At 6 p.m., the commission will debate which candidate, if any, they want to run the city.
At 7 p.m., the commission will formally vote on their top pick.
In the running are Ken Hurst, Peter Lombardi and James Sundermeier.
Hurst is a retired Special Forces colonel who has 26 years of government experience, including six years in public works and management.
Lombardi was city manager in Treasure island from 1979 to 1996 and currently is village manager for Pinecrest.
Sundermeier has 16 years of public works management experience and served as an interim city manager for one year in 1993.
If one of these men is chosen Friday, it won't be official until a contract is negotiated and signed.
Once a new manager is on board, Interim City Manager Bill Mallory will return to his regular job as fire chief. The commission is considering asking him to serve as assistant city manager, as well.
Mallory took over running the city in February after W.D. Higginbotham Jr. asked the commission to fire him. The former city manager said he could not work with the current mayor and commissioners.
That decision, and the $54,000 severance package the city paid to Higginbotham, is now the subject of a lawsuit filed by former commissioner and resident Jim Madden.
A new commission tasked with finding Higginbotham's replacement has redefined the role and wants a city manager to also run the city's public works department.
The three finalists to be interviewed Friday were picked from a pool of 20 candidates.
Their first choice, Allen Godfrey, a public works director for Belleair Beach, pulled out in June after two commissioners called him unqualified.