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Pinellas County leaders opt for a national search for new chief executive

ST. PETERSBURG — Find us a new chief executive by Halloween.

That's the direction the Pinellas County Commission gave to the county's human resources department on Tuesday. The board voted 5-2 to have human resources director Peggy Rowe and her staff conduct a national search for the county's next administrator.

Board members agreed that would yield the same result, or better, than a consulting firm that would charge $30,000 to $35,000. Hiring a consultant would also take about a month, delaying the search.

"They have the skills, the talent, they've done it before and I like the shorter time frame," Commissioner Susan Latvala said of county staff.

Chairwoman Karen Seel said consultants tend to have a stable of candidates to present to clients and don't broaden that field.

"Every time we've used a recruitment firm, I've been disappointed," she said.

Seel was among commissioners who expressed concerns in 2008 about the field of contenders produced by an outside consultant hired to replace Steve Spratt. The board hired Bob LaSala, who was fired last month.

One of the dissenters, Commissioner John Morroni, said he preferred the arm's length approach an outside consultant would provide. Commissioner Norm Roche also favored what he called an "outside, independent driver."

Commissioners also agreed Tuesday to create a screening committee to narrow the field. The board will meet next week to create a profile of a successful candidate. The advertisement will circulate among a range of organizations and publications, from the Florida Association of Counties to the Wall Street Journal.

Commissioners voted unanimously to hike interim county administrator Mark Woodard's salary by about $20,000, to $199,500, to reflect his new duties. Woodard, who served as LaSala's second-in-command, has declined a contract, saying he doesn't want any perks that rank-and-file employees do not receive.

Tony Marrero can be reached at or (727) 893-8779. Follow @tmarrerotimes on Twitter.

Pinellas County leaders opt for a national search for new chief executive 05/06/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 6, 2014 10:19pm]
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