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Safety Harbor's new manager earns raves

Steve Wylie, Safety Harbor's pick for city manager, is known by his current supervisors as an up-and-coming administrator who has matured dramatically in recent years.

Commissioners in Citrus County, where Wylie has served eight years as assistant county administrator, say he is a numbers man.

"He has single-handedly been responsible for our $90-million budget," said Frank Schiraldi, a commissioner elected four years ago. "He has done the best job _ financially and with people."

Wylie, 39, was named Sunday to replace Pam Brangaccio, who left this year to become the assistant county administrator in Charlotte County.

"It feels wonderful. Everybody is happy for me, everyone's being supportive," Wylie said Monday. "If I were to have picked a community in Pinellas County to go to, this would have been the one."

In Citrus, Wylie is known for his sense of humor and work ethic.

"You're getting a good man," Schiraldi said. "He was more or less the stable block during the transition to a new county administrator and three new county commissioners. I can't fault anything."

Wylie has been heavily involved in the budget process, finance and capital planning. It seems his budget preferences match those of recent Safety Harbor commissions. During the past six years, Citrus has shaved property tax rates to the point where they were in 1988, which is the last time Safety Harbor raised its rate.

His current boss, county administrator Tony Shoemaker, said Wylie is the best assistant he has had in 25 years of public administration.

"Steve has been great," Shoemaker said. "He has a real good ability to work with elected officials."

Shoemaker, who is a former city manager of Clearwater and Tarpon Springs, said Wylie instituted a dramatic streamlining of the budget process and the first five-year capital improvement program for Citrus.

"I've never had any doubts or qualms about leaving him in charge when I'm away," Shoemaker said. "He's trustworthy and has high integrity. I hate to lose him."

Five years ago, Wylie was involved in a losing bid to bring Cleveland Indians spring training to town. He was also a key negotiator when the County Commission decided to privatize jail and emergency management services, a controversial decision that commissioners now say saves taxpayers more than $1.5-million a year.

Most recently, Wylie has led county acquisitions of land in Citrus, negotiating several purchases of property including a 130-acre area destined to become a park.

Before going to Citrus, Wylie was the assistant city manager in Homestead and a budget and management analyst in Lee County. He has a master's degree in public administration from Northern Illinois University and a bachelor's degree in political science from Eastern Illinois University.

Commissioners here are excited about their unanimous decision to hire Wylie.

"I think he is going to work well with our current staff and he will have progressive ideas to move our city forward," said commissioner Pam Corbino. "As a family man he will embrace our traditions as warmly as we do."

Corbino, who called Wylie personable and friendly, said his experience running various governments was the key.

"I think he is going to be very accessible to the commission and people in the community," she said. "But he will also let people know he is in charge of running the administrative side of city business."

Wylie, who has called the commissioners here "capable and forthright," plans to live in Safety Harbor with his wife, Annemarie, and their 9-year-old daughter, Danielle. His hobbies include exercise and sports, especially attending minor-league baseball games.