ST. PETERSBURG — Another top St. Petersburg administrator headed for the chopping block?
The buzz started last week and has only grown stronger that Mayor Bill Foster is losing another top city administrator.
It was only last month that Foster's firing of his community enrichment senior administrator, Goliath Davis, drew newspaper headlines, press conferences, and breathless TV and radio coverage.
This time around word has it that Dave Metz, senior administrator of internal services (which oversees billing and collections, information technologies, purchasing, the city clerk's office and human resources), is leaving the city after a meeting with Foster last week. But so far, people are mum about it, including Metz.
"It's a personal issue," Metz said Wednesday afternoon. "Even if it were true, I wouldn't confirm or deny. That's something you need to talk to the mayor about. The mayor hasn't confirmed it, and it's not going to be something that I'm going to confirm."
City Administrator Tish Elston said Monday she hadn't heard anything about Metz's departure. When reminded that considering she, as the city's top administrator, would have to know if Metz is planning to leave, Elston clarified.
"Dave has not come to me and said, 'Tish, I want to retire,' " Elston said. "But I think there is an environment out there that more and more people are thinking about their retirement options."
Asked if she knew whether Foster had discussed Metz's departure, Elston said, "No, not that I know of."
On Tuesday, Foster met with his top administrators at a morning meeting where Elston and Metz were absent. According to police Chief Chuck Harmon, Foster told those attending some information about Metz but asked that it be kept confidential.
"The best person to ask is (Foster)," Harmon said.
After that meeting, Foster spoke with the St. Petersburg Times and said he would not comment on whether Metz was leaving, saying he is no longer talking to the newspaper about ongoing matters. Anything related to the budget, he said, is an ongoing matter. Last year, some neighborhood leaders complained that Foster wasn't doing enough to cut costs at the top of the administrative pay scale. They specifically named the jobs of Davis and Metz as places where Foster could start cutting. In next year's budget, the city is bracing for an $11 million deficit. In the coming weeks, Foster is expected to unveil a new organizational chart.
If Metz does go, don't expect as much fanfare as Davis' departure generated.
Still, it would be big news in City Hall, where Metz, 57, earns the ninth highest salary in the city, at $136,032.
Metz joined the city in 1971, earning $1.81 an hour as a maintenance laborer at Twin Brooks Municipal Golf Course. He went to night school to get his bachelor's degree from the University of South Florida's business administration program as he moved up the ladder. His duties have included managing parks, the city's marina and the downtown waterfront.