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DUNEDIN CITY MANAGER PRAISED

The commission gives Rob DiSpirito a 5 percent hike, raising his salary to $135,450.

It was a long, arduous search, but last year the Dunedin City Commission finally settled on a man from a small college town in Ohio to be the city manager.

Thursday night, six months after he reported for work, commissioners had just one thing to say about their choice:

Rob DiSpirito rocks.

"You just get it. You get what this is all about," Mayor Bob Hackworth told DiSpirito during a review of his performance. "I think we did a really good job in hiring the right person for the right job."

In January, DiSpirito took the helm as the new city manager. His contract states that he will make $129,000 per year, but his salary will increase by 5 percent to $135,450 if he receives a positive six-month performance review.

He did.

Commissioner Julie Scales described the past six months as "pretty tumultuous."

"He came in and was slammed with a lot of big issues," she said. "I think he's done not just satisfactory, but a very outstanding job in the last six months."

Commissioner Dave Eggers commended DiSpirito for working "10-, 12-, 14-hour days," reaching out to the community and getting a lot of input before making decisions.

"Honestly, I'm really excited about what this gentleman does for our city," he said.

Vice Mayor Deborah Kynes said she appreciated the way the city manager allowed his department heads to share their expertise for cost savings during a recent budget process.

"I think it takes a strong leader to say, 'I want my people to shine,' " she said. She praised him for not being afraid of innovation and creativity.

Commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski said DiSpirito was a great communicator and admired his style as a "hands-on" manager.

DiSpirito, 47, thanked them and gave credit to department heads and staff along with his wife, Evangelina, who puts up with his long hours.

City Attorney John Hubbard got the last chuckle following the upbeat review.

After admiring DiSpirito's competence and ethical standards, he added, "his office is so messy it makes mine look good."

Correspondent Terri Bryce Reeves can be reached at treeves@tampabay.rr.com.

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