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Safety Harbor picks manager

Published Oct. 18, 2005

Though they rejected Charles Dubyak as a finalist for the city's top job last month, commissioners decided Tuesday afternoon that they liked him after all. They unanimously voted to offer Dubyak, who manages the city of Mary Esther, the job of managing Safety Harbor.

"He's his own boss," Commissioner George Costage said. "If he wanted to b.s. us, he could have, but he didn't. I can't find anything to knock him on."

Vice Mayor Sal Cincotta agreed.

"I sensed he was honest and would work well under pressure," Cincotta said. "I think he works very well with his employees."

Dubyak, 40, said after his interview that he would discuss the move with his wife and three sons and try to negotiate a contract with the city attorney before he agrees to come.

He said he was surprised commissioners chose him so fast.

"I'm very thankful they've made this decision so quickly, but I've got to discuss it with my family," Dubyak said. "It may not be compatible with what my family wants to do."

Most commissioners asked Dubyak the same questions asked of previous applicants. To Commissioner Kathleen Bambery's inquiry about his greatest accomplishment, Dubyak said he withstood a major change in Mary Esther's government.

The city went from a strong-mayor form of government to one where a city manager operates things, Dubyak said. He took charge from a mayor who had been in office 20 years.

"The most significant contribution is overcoming that power-type situation and the expectation it would be a politically run city," Dubyak said. "It takes a great deal of time and patience and a good deal of diplomacy."

If Dubyak accepts the job, he would replace John Downes, who resigned in May rather than face a commission vote on firing him. Downes left after two candidates who called for his firing got elected to office.

Dubyak said Tuesday he was honest and had a hands-on management style.

"I'm pretty much the individual that you see," he said. "I have an open-door policy."

Commissioners said they were impressed by Dubyak's breadth of experience. He has acted as Mary Esther's personnel director and helped reduce the city's tax rate. He helped secure a grant to build a new library.

Mayor Art Levine said he was concerned with the size difference between the two cities. Mary Esther has 4,350 people. Safety Harbor has 14,500.

"In a three- to six-month period, he'll learn everything he needs to know," Cincotta said. "He doesn't have to come here and do a repair job."

Dubyak makes $41,600 a year in Mary Esther. He gets four weeks' vacation and the use of a car and would get 2{ months' severance pay.

He is expected to be offered a salary of $58,000 to $65,000, use of a car and credit card for city business. Dubyak also would get 6 months' severance pay if fired without cause.

Dubyak is the second applicant to be offered the job. The commissioners' first choice, James W. Pierce, turned it down. Several other finalists dropped out of the competition.