PLANT CITY — After an hourlong interview Monday, Plant City commissioners took just one minute to decide they want Assistant City Manager Greg Horwedel to become the city manager in February.
The commissioners didn't advertise the position after City Manager David Sollenberger announced his retirement in June. They interviewed only one person: Horwedel.
"I don't have a lot of questions for you tonight because I've been interviewing you for three years," said Mayor Rick Lott, referring to Horwedel's time as assistant city manager.
Lott said city officials wanted to quickly replace Sollenberger to show solidarity and to allow the new city manager to start work on the budget right away.
A self-proclaimed "fiscal conservative," Horwedel, 48, said he is willing to make calculated risks. He said setting up a budget in the poor economy will be difficult, but he thinks the city can continue to provide the same level of service despite a decrease in revenue.
Later, when Commissioner Michael Sparkman asked him how he'd do that, Horwedel said he'd consult the commissioners about whether they'd be willing to raise taxes or reduce services. His priority, however, would be streamlining operations.
"We're probably one of the leanest (cities) in Florida, but it's important that we live within our means," he said.
Horwedel said if the property taxes increased, he'd need to know exactly where that money was going. And he added that he's okay with fee increases as long as they target people who use the services.
Horwedel's vision for Plant City also includes the implementation of the midtown redevelopment plan.
The midtown project focuses on revitalizing Plant City's downtown core, where there are deteriorating buildings. The city hopes to create a mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly area for homes, businesses and entertainment.
After the city voted unanimously to select Horwedel as the next city manager, several commissioners offered their congratulations.
Three years ago, when Sollenberger needed to hire an assistant city manager, Mayor Lott told him to "choose a future city manager."
"He did," Lott said.
Horwedel will start his new job on Feb. 1. The city will not fill his position. His salary will be $130,000.
Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 661-2443.