Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas County to cut jobs of two top administrators

Pinellas County Administrator Bob LaSala is eliminating the jobs of two of his top deputies, part of an administrative shakeup he said is aimed at cutting costs and combining departments.

The new plan would cut two of the three existing assistant county administrator positions. Maureen Freaney and Carl Harness, both of whom became LaSala's assistant administrators two years ago, will no longer hold those jobs.

"I've recruited these people, they've been top performers, and it's with a great deal of anxiety that I am doing this," LaSala said Tuesday. "But I think it needs to be done."

Freaney will stay on staff, LaSala said, as the director of the county's Animal Services Department, which she has been running for several months on an interim basis while the county searched for a new leader. But the job will come with a significant pay cut — Freaney currently makes about $155,000, LaSala said, and in her new position will earn about $30,000 less.

"I've known for a few weeks and kind of my only comment on this is I've been in Animal Services for about four months and I have absolutely found a real passion there," Freaney said.

The elimination of her job was a budget-based decision, she said. She said she and LaSala are "absolutely on good terms."

LaSala said he offered to find a new job for Harness but was turned down. Harness has applied to lead the Children's Board of Hillsborough County and has also put himself in contention to replace outgoing Pasco County Administrator John Galllagher. Harness was on vacation Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.

Freaney and Harness oversaw a long list of county departments, including health and human services, emergency management, tourist development and public safety.

Taking effect in early October, LaSala's reorganization will hand new power to Health and Human Services director Gwendolyn Warren and Public Safety Services director Bruce Moeller, both of whom will get raises. How much is still being worked out, LaSala said.

The plan will leave Mark Woodard, whose official title is chief of staff, as the sole assistant county administrator.

"There will be substantial savings, several hundred thousand dollars in savings," LaSala said. "Some of that will be used to undertake some careful study of work process improvement and service delivery improvement as well as some other reorganization."

Though property values are expected to rise in Pinellas for the first time in five years, the county's leaders are still bracing themselves for a large budget gap in fiscal year 2014. They expect lawmakers in Tallahassee will force them to pay more into the state's retirement system, and that fear, coupled with declining revenue from the gas tax and the need to give employees raises, has them looking for ways to slim down.

Though he does not plan to present the commissioners with his budget proposal until July, LaSala has begun to discuss combining departments such as Community Development, Health and Human Services, Code Enforcement and Justice and Consumer Services. Warren and Moeller will become executive directors under this change, he said, and will oversee the departments that are born out of future consolidation.

Anna M. Phillips can be reached at or (727) 893-8779.

Pinellas County to cut jobs of two top administrators 04/23/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 12:19am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump sprinkles political attacks into Scout Jamboree speech

    GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — Ahead of President Donald Trump's appearance Monday at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, the troops were offered some advice on the gathering's official blog: Fully hydrate. Be "courteous" and "kind." And avoid the kind of divisive chants heard during the 2016 campaign such as "build …

    President Donald Trump addresses the Boy Scouts of America's 2017 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va., July 24, 2017. [New York Times]
  2. Trump, seething about attorney general, speculates about firing Sessions, sources say

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has spoken with advisers about firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as he continues to rage against Sessions' decision to recuse himself from all matters related to the Russia investigation.

  3. John McCain to return to Senate for health care vote

    WASHINGTON — The Senate plans to vote Tuesday to try to advance a sweeping rewrite of the nation's health-care laws with the last-minute arrival of Sen. John McCain — but tough talk from President Donald Trump won no new public support from skeptical GOP senators for the flagging effort that all but …

  4. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies


    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  5. Blake Snell steps up, but Rays lose to Orioles anyway (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell stepped up when he had to Monday and delivered an impressive career-high seven-plus innings for the Rays. That it wasn't enough in what ended up a 5-0 loss to the Orioles that was their season-high fifth straight is symptomatic of the mess they are in right now.

    Tim Beckham stands hands on hips after being doubled off first.