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Buckhorn names chief of staff, chief financial officer

TAMPA -- Mayor Bob Buckhorn on Thursday promoted a veteran city administrator to be his chief of staff and named a St. Petersburg investment banker as the city's new chief financial officer.

The new chief of staff is Santiago Corrada, a 7-year city employee who has served as the city's administrator for neighborhood services, the convention center, tourism, recreation and cultural arts.

Corrada, 47, also leads the city's efforts to plan for the 2012 Republican National Convention. His salary will be $153,004. He will replace Darrell Smith, who retired when former Mayor Pam Iorio left office. His nomination is scheduled to go to the City Council for confirmation on May 5.

A graduate of the University of Miami, Corrada was director of parks and recreation for the city of Miami and spent 17 years in the Miami-Dade school system before coming to Tampa in 2004.

Buckhorn's choice for chief financial officer is Sonya Little, 45, who was most recently the managing director in the St. Petersburg office of Public Resources Advisory Group, which has worked as the city's financial advisor.

Buckhorn, who met Little 20 years ago when she worked with William R. Hough & Co., praised her as knowledgeable, calm, methodical and detail-oriented.

"It was my mission to build an administration of the best and brightest, and I'm lucky that Sonya, like (city attorney-designate) Jim Shimberg, was willing to come and join me on this journey," Buckhorn said. "She is accomplished, she is very, very highly recommended, and I think the city will be well-served by her."

If she is confirmed by the City Council, Little would earn $160,659 annually. A resident of unincorporated Hillsborough County, she is scheduled to start work May 9 and is expected to serve in an interim capacity until she moves inside the city limits and is confirmed by the City Council.

Little would replace Bonnie Wise, an investment banker-turned-city administrator whom Iorio hired in 2003. Wise, who is credited with saving the city millions of dollars by refinancing its debt at lower rates of interest, recently took a similar job with Hillsborough County.

Once confirmed, Little's first task will be to help close an expected gap of $24 million to $30 million in next year's city budget.

Buckhorn has asked city departments to tell him what it would take to cut their budgets by 10 and 15 percent.

"In essence I will get a menu back from all those departments as to 'If we do this, this happens and this will be the constituency that will be affected," he said.

Little has a bachelor's degree in business from the University of South Florida, has held two securities licenses and worked as a bond development specialist with the state of Florida Division of Bond Finance prior to going into investment banking.

In the private sector, she has worked with many local governments as either a financial advisor or as an underwriter for a variety of bond issues for everything from water and sewer improvements to school and university projects to parking and affordable housing. Her work has included helping clients get good bond ratings and affordable insurance on their debt.

In addition to working with Tampa, she has been the financial advisor to the cities of Hollywood, Hollywood Beach and Miami Beach. She also served as a member of her firm's financial advisory team for the city of Tampa, Pinellas County, Miami-Dade County and the District of Columbia.