NEW PORT RICHEY — City officials are scrambling for the second time in less than a month to replace a key city official, this time veteran finance director Rick Snyder.
City Manager John Schneiger announced at the City Council meeting Tuesday night that Snyder had resigned effective Feb. 27. As with the recent departure of former City Attorney Thomas Morrison, city officials expressed shock and disappointment, while Schneiger declined to say why Snyder left.
Snyder, who makes a yearly salary of $77,812, has been the city's finance director since 1993.
"I regret any inconvenience that this will cause," Snyder wrote in his resignation letter. "Due to the extensive volume of current projects, it will be impossible to complete all of them before my last day, although I will make every effort to delegate them."
Snyder's resignation surprised City Council members, who were notified Monday. Council member Judy DeBella Thomas worried of the loss of the city's "brain trust."
"I was disappointed," she said Tuesday of Snyder's resignation.
DeBella Thomas and Mayor Scott McPherson thanked Snyder for his service at the meeting, while Snyder said nothing in response, but just smiled and nodded. He declined to comment for this story.
Schneiger said he had a long meeting with Snyder Wednesday to discuss his departure, but declined to divulge what was said.
"I just want to protect his privacy," the city manager said. "I will say we had a good conversation."
Snyder's resignation comes less than a month after Morrison left following 16 years as city attorney. Morrison also declined to discuss his reasons for leaving, but his departure came after a dustup over the animal control ordinance. Under Morrison's guidance, the council had adopted the county's code — unintentionally opening the gates to everything from emu ownership to dogfighting, until the council rushed back with an emergency order to block those provisions.
City officials are concerned about the loss of Snyder's experience in the crucial budget meetings ahead. The city's finance director plays a chief role in crafting a budget, with his expertise on tax projections, capital expenses and expected revenue.
"It is a concern when you see a couple of long-term officials leave the city. Especially during budget season," McPherson said.
McPherson declined to comment on the reason for Snyder's departure, saying personnel matters should be handled by Schneiger.
"I don't think it's appropriate for me to talk about it. This is something that should come from the city manager," McPherson said.
Both McPherson and Deputy Mayor Rob Marlowe praised Snyder for good work during his long tenure. Marlowe said he does not know why Snyder resigned.
"He has done his dead-level best to give us everything we could have asked for over the years," Marlowe said. "I'm quite frankly disappointed to see him go."
Schneiger said the search is already on for an interim finance director. He has already conducted an interview Wednesday of a possible candidate, he said. The city manager is responsible for hiring for an interim position and will not need to consult the council. The city is also asking for applications to begin a search for Snyder's permanent replacement.
The city manager acknowledged that a quick find for an interim replacement is needed with the budget season looming.
"It could be a problem if we don't find somebody fast. That's why we are moving as quickly as possible," Schneiger said.