NEW PORT RICHEY — After more than a year of searching, the City Council on Monday selected a new city manager with 25 years of government experience in Ohio and Michigan.
During a special meeting at City Hall, the council voted unanimously to hire Debbie L. Manns, 51, who has been assistant city manager of Clayton, Ohio, since 2006. Prior to that, Manns served as city manager of Monroe, Ohio, from 2004 to 2006, and as city administrator for Southgate, Ohio, from 2000 to 2003.
She also worked for 14 years for the city of Wayne, Mich., where she was a housing rehabilitation administrator, economic development technician and community development director.
"It's an honor and privilege to be selected to serve the city of New Port Richey," Manns said during a phone interview Monday.
Manns said she was searching for one more long-term position to end her career and New Port Richey is the perfect fit. She hopes to lead the city for 10 to 12 years.
"I told the City Council during interviews that I had one chapter left in my career and I very much expect the city of New Port Richey to be where I devote that," she said.
Interim City Manager Susan Dillinger and the human resources staff will next draw up a contract for Manns, which will be contingent on council approval. The position was advertised at a $115,000 annual salary.
It was an arduous road finding a candidate since the resignation of the previous city manager, John Schneiger, who left in September 2012 saying the council had lost faith in him. The council then tapped Dillinger, the city's longtime library director, on an interim basis and embarked upon failed searches that did not draw enough qualified candidates.
In recent weeks, the council opened up the search again, this time upping the salary being offered and allowing candidates outside Florida to apply. Manns said she applied because she often vacations in the area and knows New Port Richey well.
Council members said they liked her extensive experience and background in economic development and redevelopment, two key issues facing the city. Deputy Mayor Bill Phillips said during interviews a little more than a week ago he found Manns "confident" and "comfortable" in her skin. Phillips said he wants to see a contract offered to her as quickly as possible.
"Time is of the essence," he said.