Assistant City Manager Garry Brumback resigned Tuesday to take over the top job for a midsize Texas city that's facing issues similar to Clearwater's.
Brumback, an eight-year Clearwater veteran, will become city manager of Baytown shortly after Labor Day. He plans to leave his Clearwater post in early September.
Baytown is a waterfront town of 70,000 about 30 miles east of Houston. City leaders there say they're trying to revitalize downtown, enhance recreation and fix aging infrastructure.
"The similarities here and there are extraordinary -there is a lot of potential and that's what really strikes me," said Brumback, 50, one of two Clearwater assistant city managers. "There's a lot of untapped potential."
He said he fell in love with Texas after spending six years there in the Army stationed at Fort Hood.
Brumback joined Clearwater in early 1999 as a strategic director, helping to create a longtime organizational plan for the city's workforce. When Bill Horne was tapped to serve as interim city manager, he promoted Brumback in August 2000 to serve as his top assistant.
The two are longtime military men - Brumback retired in 1998 from the Army as a lieutenant colonel after 20 years. Horne said he had the respect and knowledge to help run the city.
"What I looked for was someone who was willing to tell the emperor that he had no clothes on and he would - that's his greatest strength," Horne said. "All the things we've done, we've done as a team and he's been a tremendous (facilitator) of the things we've tackled."
Brumback, though, did hit a few bumps in the road.
He was suspended for a week without pay in March 2004 for sending an e-mail attacking the anonymous writers of a Web site that denigrated city officials during the midst of contract negotiations with the city's firefighters union. And he was disciplined by Horne in October 2000 for swapping e-mails at work containing off-color jokes.
In the end, an apologetic Brumback kept his job. And Horne credits him with helping craft the city's annual spending plan, running day-to-day operations and spearheading some beach initiatives.
Baytown city officials selected Brumback on Monday to replace the city's former manager who left in January. He was picked after a three-month search that drew 52 applications.
Baytown Mayor Stephen DonCarlos said Brumback's 20 years experience in planning - most of it in operation planning learned in the Army - will help the city grow. He said Baytown is trying to reinvigorate its downtown while combating growth issues in the northern portion of the city.
The city, on the northern shore of Galveston Bay, has a $99.7-million budget, 680 city employees and 17 departments.
By comparison, Clearwater's budget is about $390-million and is has almost 1,900 employees.
Brumback, who makes $130,000 in Clearwater, is still negotiating his contract with Baytown.
"I'm leaving with mixed emotions," said Brumback, who holds a bachelor's in economics from Virginia Military Institute and a master's degree in international relations from Boston University. "I'm very excited about this opportunity, but ... I've had an extraordinary experience in Clearwater."
Horne said he's begun looking for a replacement, but doesn't know how long the search will take.