PORT RICHEY — City Manager Tom O'Neill got high marks from the Port Richey City Council in his first evaluation from bosses coming off the turmoil of firing his predecessor two years ago.
During a council meeting Wednesday, board members made glowing remarks about the leadership and stability O'Neill has brought to the city in a little more than a year.
"I think you are what we had hoped for," Vice Mayor Bill Colombo said.
City Council member Steve O'Neill (no relation) said O'Neill has been a hands-on city manager who raised the bar for accountability. Even when things go wrong, he said, O'Neill has been transparent in describing problems and finding solutions.
"You've done an outstanding job. It's obvious we made the right choice," Steve O'Neill said.
The commentary was a far cry from relations between the council and previous city manager Ellen Posivach. O'Neill took the reins in January 2012 after the council went nearly a year without a permanent city manager following Posavich's firing.
In early 2011, Posivach drew criticism from council members accusing her of working from her Tarpon Springs home too much and taking expensive trips on the city's dime. The council fired her, stating she had made two high-dollar equipment purchases without board consent. Posivach has since filed a breach of contract lawsuit, which is pending.
But O'Neill painted a different picture of his relationship with council saying the board has "created an environment" where he and staff can thrive.
The City Council credited O'Neill and finance director Pam Zeigler with keeping the city's financial house in order on the heels of a favorable audit of the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
It was good news for a city that just a few years ago made a state watch list as being in a potential state of financial emergency. Zeigler said she received word a year ago that it had been removed from the list.