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City manager will remain with Pinellas Park

(ran West edition)

Jerry Mudd applies for a position with Hillsborough County, but decides he doesn't want to leave the community.

City Manager Jerry Mudd recently applied for a high-level position with Hillsborough County, but now he doesn't want the job.

Mudd said he withdrew as a candidate after talking with a Hillsborough County employee who is returning to work with Pinellas Park. Hillsborough solicited him, Mudd said, and he applied four or five weeks ago for the newly created position of assistant county administrator for community services.

The job, one of two that answer to the Hillsborough County administrator, includes the oversight of about 2,800 employees in departments such as public works, fire, planning and zoning, building, and public safety, said Sharon Wall, Hillsborough County personnel manager.

The pay range for the new position is $74,200 to $111,000 a year. A car allowance is included as one of the perks. Mudd earns $75,051 with Pinellas Park. He receives no car allowance.

Wall said Hillsborough has received 132 applications for the job.

Mudd reached his decision after speaking with Tom Owens, the former personnel head for Pinellas Park. Owens left for Hillsborough a couple of months ago and announced last week that he's returning to Pinellas Park at the end of this month. Owens said he missed the close-knit, community atmosphere of the city.

"I'm no longer interested in Hillsborough County," Mudd said.

Not only that, he's not really interested in leaving Pinellas Park. Mudd said he's happy with the city and that this was the first time in 11 years that he sent out a resume.

At least one council member was caught off guard by the news that Mudd had applied for another job.

"No kidding," Ed Taylor said. "I'll be darned. . . . I'm surprised to hear it but very happy that he's chosen to remain here with us."

Taylor said he could see why the city manager would be in demand.

"The manager of a growing vibrant city like we have here would be an excellent line in his resume to go to the next level of administration or city management," Taylor said.

Mudd, 53, has run the city for two years. He was appointed interim city manager in late July 1997 when the City Council fired then-manager Jim Madden with little explanation.

After several months in the job, the council named him permanent city manager.

Mudd's tenure has been rocky at times.

He was criticized early on for handing out raises as high as 38 percent to some city administrators. Mudd also oversaw the unraveling of a police grant that had to be returned.

For the most part, the current council has supported Mudd and his actions. Two members _ Taylor and Rick Butler _ have given him glowing job reviews. Two others _ Chuck Williams and Mayor Bill Mischler _ have been more than satisfied with his work.

Mudd's relationship with the remaining council member, Pat Bailey, has been rocky. Bailey disagreed with Mudd's firing last summer of assistant city manager/finance director Peggy McGarrity. Since then, the two have often been at odds, and Bailey has rated Mudd's performance as low.