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Belleair Beach set to pick city manager

(ran Beach edition)

After a year of planning, advertising and interviewing, the Belleair Beach City Council is about to take a major leap into the future as it selects its first city manager.

"Our first city manager will have to be someone who can build a foundation for the future of our city," said Belleair Beach Presiding Officer Lynn Rives.

Last spring, voters approved changing to a city manager form of government. That change will go into effect after the March elections. The city manager will take over the duties now performed by the mayor, who now does not have a vote on the council. The new mayor will take over leadership of the council, a function now performed by the presiding officer. The new council will still have seven members.

The city manager will be paid between $45,000 and $60,000 annually. The position's responsibilities include hiring, firing and supervising the city's 13 full-time and five part-time employees, budgeting and implementing policies set by the council.

Among the issues facing the city manager, Rives said, are a planned new county bridge spanning the Intracoastal Waterway, placing utilities underground, construction of a new City Hall and whether to disband the city's police department.

"There also will have to be a real team-building effort among city employees," Rives said.

Three city manager finalists _ one of whom is the husband of Madeira Beach City Manager Jill Silverboard _ were selected from a list of about 45 applicants by a committee made up of council members and citizens. The finalists are:

+ Reid Silverboard, 55, a Treasure Island resident, formerly city manager of Carrollton, Ga., and Fort Walton Beach. He previously served as deputy city manager of Hallandale Beach as well as in planning positions in Hallandale and Naples. He holds a master's degree in public administration from Florida International University and a master's degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Mississippi.

+ J. Douglas Drymon, 47, previously town manager in Lake Park, city manager in Dade City, and town manager in Wallace, N.C. He holds a master's degree in public affairs from the University of North Carolina Greensboro and a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Florida. He lives in Lake Park.

+ Eric S. Meserve, 51, currently a procurement analyst for the city of St. Petersburg and a resident of South Pasadena. He previously served as town manager of Indialantic and as city manager of Green Cove Springs and Indian Rocks Beach. He was town administrator of Goffstown and town manager of Meridith, both in New Hampshire. He holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Maine.

The finalists have been interviewed by telephone and in person by the selection committee. Background checks were completed by an independent company.

The full council will meet Thursday at 7 p.m. at City Hall to approve a final schedule of interviews, tentatively slated for next week.

That approval was supposed to happen Monday, but that council meeting was postponed when not enough members showed up to form a quorum. Three council members were out of town and a fourth reportedly was sick.

Unless changed Thursday, residents will be able to meet and talk with the three candidates during an open social on Jan. 12 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at City Hall.

The city manager candidates will next meet individually with each of the seven council members, again tentatively scheduled for Jan. 13. At 6:30 p.m. that evening they will make individual presentations and answer questions during a public meeting at City Hall.

A decision on the city manager could come as early as Jan. 14 during a special council meeting scheduled for 5 p.m. at City Hall, 444 Causeway Blvd. The council plans to individually rate the candidates and possibly make a decision at that time.