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Former Zephyrhills City Manager Steve Spina is one of five finalists to replace Pasco County Assistant Administrator Suzanne Salichs, who's resigning for personal reasons.

Spina, 60, who held the top job at Zephyrhills for 15 years before retiring in 2011, interviewed for the administrative post this past week and is on tap for a second round of interviews on Monday. "I just found that some aspects of government I miss, the challenges, the excitement, and it looked like there were some opportunities in Pasco County," he said.

Lately, Spina has been teaching government at the University of South Florida. His teaching contract ends in May, but he said he's been thinking about making a return to public service for a couple of months.

He said he applied for a county job about a month ago, but was told it was already been filled but that another position might be open up soon.

Salichs, who is in charge of multiple county departments, including Animal Services, Parks and Recreation and Public Transportation, oversees 400 people and earns $108,150 a year. After moving from a government job in Miami-Dade 18 months ago, she announced in March that she was leaving to return to Miami.

Spina retired from Zephyrhills three years ago. He said he envisioned winding down his work life at USF, his alma mater, but found "it was almost like sitting on the sidelines, and I wanted to get back in the game."

He said he's not sure when a decision about the post will be made, but he expects to learn something this month.

Also seeking the job are Erik W. Bush, a former business manager from a school district in Illinois; Dale T. Dougherty, a college professor and former parks and recreation executive director in Macon, Ga.; Catherine Pearson, an assistant county administrator in Citrus County; and Maureen Rischitelli, an assistant to the district manager at the Village Center Community Development District and a former town manager at Oakland, in Orange County, Fla.

Rich Shopes can be reached at or (727) 869-6236.