ZEPHYRHILLS — Until they get a new city manager on board, council members unanimously agreed Monday to ask former City Manager Steve Spina to fill in on an interim basis.
The council accepted a resignation letter at the start of the meeting from outgoing City Manager Jim Drumm, who agreed last week to leave the post with a severance deal of a little more than $54,000. Drumm was hired in May 2011 to replace Spina, who was retiring, but ran afoul of council members Lance Smith and Ken Burgess, who balked at renewing Drumm's contract over complaints about his management style.
In a letter to the council Drumm read at a meeting last month, he questioned whether the move to oust him might have something to do with a desire to bring Spina back to City Hall. Smith alluded to Drumm's question Monday when he recommended hiring Spina as an interim city manager. Smith noted that discussions about Drumm's future with the city began in early March — when Spina was applying for a job with Pasco County. Smith said Spina was not a factor in his desire to cut ties with Drumm, noting he gave Drumm his first poor evaluation two years ago.
Smith told the council Spina did not get a county job and was willing to return to the city manager post on a temporary basis.
"He's willing to help us any way we need him, for as long as we need," Smith said.
Smith and other council members said they considered tapping a department head for the interim position, but decided it put too heavy a workload on that person. Council member Kent Compton asked public works director Shane LeBlanc, who was in the audience, if he was interested in being the interim city manager.
"I respectfully decline," Le- Blanc said, adding that his department has too many important projects in the works.
Council members voted to offer Spina the job for a six-month period at the same annual salary Drumm was making — roughly $97,000 — with an option to extend if necessary. Council member Charlie Proctor and City Attorney Joseph Poblick will work out an agreement with Spina and bring it back for a council vote in a special meeting set for 6 p.m. today.
In other business, the council agreed to meet in a workshop session Monday to tour the recently purchased historic Jeffries House and discuss options for putting it to use.