Saturday, June 23, 2018
News Roundup

New Port Richey ready to remove 'interim' status from two top posts

NEW PORT RICHEY — Interim police Chief Kim Bogart says he gets the question almost every day as he interacts with the public.

When will the interim tag on his job be lifted?

"People ask me about it all the time. All I can tell them is I don't know," Bogart said.

The city tapped Bogart as interim chief in March upon the departure of former Chief James Steffens, who went to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. Bogart was appointed by interim City Manager Susan Dillinger, who is also serving under the same indefinite status.

Dillinger, the city's library director who has said she has no interest in being city manager permanently, was appointed in October by the City Council when former City Manager John Schneiger said he had lost confidence that the board supported the direction he was taking the city.

With leadership in flux in New Port Richey, some on the council say it's time to talk about removing the interim from Bogart's title.

"I think he's done a great job and I would like to start the discussion about his interim status," Deputy Mayor Bill Phillips said of Bogart.

That would be welcome news to Bogart, who said he is knee-deep in budget considerations and has promoted lieutenants in the department to make up his command staff.

"It would settle some things for me. I would sleep better if I was appointed. I'm treating every day as if I'm here long term," Bogart said.

Meanwhile, the city manager position — which has been posted for two weeks and closes July 1 — has drawn a dozen applicants from Texas to New Jersey as of Friday afternoon.

The City Council waited months to open the process due to the timing of Schneiger's departure. When he left in October, there was talk among council members of beginning the search for a new city manager immediately. But with an election in April — that at the time had a big candidate list of seven — the council opted to wait. Now two new council members, Chopper Davis and Jeff Starkey, are aboard and want to find new leadership quickly.

"The sooner we get started, the better," Davis said at a recent council meeting.

Starkey said he thinks Bogart has done an excellent job and would support lifting his interim tag. Choosing a new city manager, he said, will be the most important decision the council makes.

"It's just so key. We need to bring in leadership that has a clear direction to continue the progress that has been made," Starkey said.

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