When Pasco commissioners began looking for a new county administrator four months ago, they wanted to cast a wide net. So they spent $24,000 on a recruiter to conduct a national search.
Renee Narloch of Bob Murray & Associates promised an extensive search, not a warmed-over list of candidates who were passed over for previous jobs. Pasco would be an easy sell and draw lots of interest, she assured them.
But after the deadline for applications passed last week, commissioners were dismayed when they received a list of 60 names along with the expected resume of Pasco Chief Assistant County Administrator Michele Baker.
"I was surprised at the low number," Commissioner Kathryn Starkey said at Tuesday's meeting. Starkey said a simple ad on Monster.com for a new Pasco County Education Foundation director drew more than 100 applications.
"I didn't see any far reaching effort," Commissioner Pat Mulieri said. "I said we should have given it to Michele and saved (the fee)." Mulieri said she did a Google search of some candidates and "there were problems." The list included several local and out-of-state government officials as well as an AutoZone salesman, a professional musician and photo editor of the New York Daily News.
Narloch did not return calls from the Tampa Bay Times.
The firm is set to narrow the list to eight and submit names on May 7. Commissioners will choose three or four finalists, who will be brought in for interviews May 24 before a final pick is made May 28.
County purchasing director Scott Stromer said the deadline could be extended to mid-May or commissioners could do their own research on who might be a good replacement for County Administrator John Gallagher, who will retire June 1.
He speculated that the presence of such a strong internal candidate as Baker might have discouraged applicants. He also noted that Pasco faced competition from Lee and Alachua counties, which also are searching for administrators. The lack of a salary range printed in the recruitment brochure also might have played a role. Gallagher is paid $180,700 annually.
Commission Chairman Ted Schrader said Wednesday that he is reserving judgment until he sees the top eight names.
"Sometimes quantity doesn't always provide quality," said Schrader, who noted that the Tampa Bay Water director's job drew 180 applicants. "We may end up with eight quality candidates to choose from."