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Pasco commission votes to put assistant administrator into county’s top job

Commission Chairperson Kathryn Starkey will now negotiate an employment contract.
Mike Carballa
Mike Carballa [ Pasco County ]
Published Jun. 21|Updated Jun. 21

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County’s search for its next administrator has ended quickly as commissioners unanimously voted Tuesday to promote their assistant administrator for public infrastructure Mike Carballa into the job when Dan Biles leaves at the end of September.

Commissioners had talked briefly earlier this month about making Carballa their interim pick, but because Commissioner Mike Moore was absent, they opted to wait until this week to make that decision.

Commissioner Ron Oakley said that while he was in favor of the interim appointment, as he thought more about the idea, he decided it made sense to give Carballa the job without the temporary label. Previously the commission had floated the idea of hiring a company to do a nationwide search.

Commissioner Jack Mariano said that after watching Carballa and the rest of the county’s leadership team working together on county issues this week, he was impressed with the group dynamic. He said he didn’t think the county could find a better person.

Mariano said that Carballa’s current job working with critical county infrastructure projects such as roads and utilities has been a good foundation for the move. He cited his work on the purchase of the Lindrick Utility, which the commission was finalizing on Tuesday, and several storm water relief efforts as projects where Carballa had done well.

“I think he’s ready for the job,” Mariano said, noting the county will be better served with someone at the helm familiar with such projects.

County growth and development has been the focus for Pasco in recent years. Commissioners are also grappling with some other challenging issues, including the transfer of the jail from the control of the sheriff to the county.

“I want to see this county continue to move forward,” Moore said. “I think he would excel at this position.”

He also said that corporate leaders often prep someone in their organization to take their place, so this was not an unusual move. “You see it all the time” in the private sector, he said.

Commission Chairperson Kathryn Starkey said she also supported Carballa, though she said she also understood that sometimes a wider search would bring new and helpful ideas. Such a search brought Biles to Pasco, she said. After commissioners approved Carballa, they also voted for Starkey to begin negotiating an employment contract with him.

Biles, who served as administrator for the past five years, announced in May that he was resigning so that he and his wife could pursue an opportunity to do church leadership training overseas.

Carballa told commissioners, “I do appreciate your confidence,” and that he looked forward to working with county staff and stakeholders in his new role. Like Biles, Carballa is an engineer. Before becoming assistant administrator in 2018, Carballa served as the county’s engineering director.

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