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St. Petersburg Mayor-elect Bill Foster will keep most City Hall administrators and managers

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor-elect Bill Foster will keep the majority of City Hall's top administrators and managers when he takes office in two weeks.

Foster, whose campaign platform extolled stability and efficiency, will retain all three deputy mayors, albeit with new titles. As a candidate, he said some residents confused the deputy mayor titles for elected positions, and he vowed to reshape the city's organizational chart.

"I want to make sure the right people were in the right spots," Foster said.

There were no dismissals or salary changes announced in a wide, sweeping memorandum released Friday afternoon.

Among the changes that will be phased in when Foster takes office Jan. 4:

• Deputy Mayor Tish Elston's new title is city administrator. She will oversee the budget, finance and school resources departments. This is somewhat of a promotion for Elston, who will now oversee the city's other administrators.

• Deputy Mayor Goliath Davis will be the city's community enrichment senior administrator. Davis, who was often hounded by complaints that his title as deputy mayor of the city's black neighborhoods didn't accurately reflect his duties, will continue to oversee the city's business assistance center and diverse areas such as Midtown and Childs Park. He also will supervise codes assistance, community initiatives, housing and community development, and special projects. Many of these duties were previously under the umbrella of Deputy Mayor David Metz. Davis, who currently answers directly to Mayor Rick Baker, will fall under Elston's authority in a Foster administration.

• Metz will become the city's internal services senior administrator. He will monitor the city's billing and collections, city clerk, human resources, government services, information and communication services, and purchasing departments. This post is currently held by Mike Connors. Metz also answers to the mayor. He will soon be under Elston's auspices.

• Connors' new title is public works administrator. He will oversee the engineering and capital improvements, fleet management, sanitation, stormwater, pavement and traffic operations, and water resources departments. Many of these duties already are part of his job.

• Most employees will keep their current titles, including city development senior administrator Rick Mussett, city attorney John Wolfe, fire Chief James Large, police Chief Chuck Harmon and City Clerk Eva Andujar.

Foster also announced the departure of a handful of upper management employees:

• Finance director Jeff Spies will retire in May. Spies, who oversaw a controversial securities lending program that drained roughly $15.8 million from city coffers last year, elected to leave on his own accord, Foster said.

• Parks director Cliff Footlick, a 43-year veteran, is retiring. Foster will combine the city's parks and recreation departments into one department under Sherry McBee, the city's current recreation director.

• Julie Weston, the city's director of development services, is also leaving next month. On the campaign trail, many candidates said her department has made it difficult for businesses to obtain permits. Elston said Weston's departure had nothing to do with her performance. Weston's responsibilities will fall to economic development director Dave Goodwin, who will soon be named planning and economic development director.

Foster and Elston met with the city's administrators and managers Friday, when he reiterated his campaign goals: public safety, customer service, cost effective service and education.

The meeting took on a pep rally atmosphere, with Foster praising the city's capable workers. Most administrators were told of the changes prior to the meeting.

Foster said he could make more structural changes soon, based on projections for the 2010 city budget.

"It's pretty different," Foster said of his new plan. "I really wanted to build upon the talent we have."

However, Elston said few employees had questions about the new organizational chart.

"It's not a whole lot of change from what we have done before," she said.

Cristina Silva can be reached at (727) 893-8846 or csilva@sptimes.com.

St. Petersburg Mayor-elect Bill Foster will keep most City Hall administrators and managers 12/18/09 [Last modified: Saturday, December 19, 2009 12:17am]
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