TREASURE ISLAND – The search for a new city manager is going to take a minimum of four to six months longer.
City commissioners decided June 20 against interviewing any of the nine finalists from a national search conducted by the International City/County Management Association’s Senior Advisor program and to spend an estimated $25,000 to hire an executive search firm.
City Human Resources Director Jennifer Poirrier said she would prepare a request for proposal to advertise for a headhunter.
“I totally support going with a headhunter,” Poirrier said. “I can get an RFP put together quickly, reviewed by the city attorney and get it published.”
She said timeliness would be important because Treasure Island is one of many coastal communities in Florida currently searching for a city manager. Among them are Oldsmar, Dunedin, Madeira Beach, Punta Gorda and Marco Island.
The move to go with a headhunter was precipitated by ICMA Senior Advisor Mark Durbin, who conducted the initial search for the city. Durbin, a former city manager in Kissimmee who has conducted a number of similar searches for municipalities, said he was disappointed with the pool of applicants.
“I’ve been doing this for seven years and probably worked with 30 cities in their manager searches, and I’ve got to be honest with you,” he said. “The overall quality of the applications you received is probably the worst I’ve ever seen.”
In addition, Durbin said the 47 applicants was a low number.
“You would think people from around the country would kill to want to move to this location, but you got very few applications overall,” he said.
Durbin went on to say the low number is not exclusive to Treasure Island and other searches he has conducted recently produced about half the normal number of applicants.
“I don’t know why,” Durbin said. “I’m helping two other cities with their searches right now and they also have gotten historically low numbers.”
Durbin said the city’s advertisements in the Florida League of Cities and ICMA newsletters were the best places to market the position and potential candidates had good access to the opening.
Commissioner Ralph Kennedy said he was surprised by the lack of quality in cover letters from the nine finalists.
“I didn’t see any evidence that any of these nine people took the time to research the issues of Treasure Island and list some familiarity with what’s going on here,” Kennedy said. “They could go into our website or look at our meeting notes to make this a little more personalized. A lot of this was just boiler plate responding to a job opening.”
Of the nine finalists, commissioners voted initially to interview two – Mark Kutney, town manager of Loxahatchee Groves, Florida; and David Strahl, former assistant village manager of Mount Prospect, Illinois – but later passed on that opportunity.
There was also a move by Commissioner Larry Lunn to add former Madeira Beach City Manager Shane Crawford to the list of finalists. Treasure Island insurance agent Jim Everett, who lives in Madeira Beach, spoke highly of Crawford’s achievements and suggested commissioners give him serious consideration.
The move to add Crawford, who recently resigned from his position in Madeira Beach, was backed by Kennedy. However, Commissioners Deb Toth and Ken Keys, along with Mayor Bob Minning, did not back the motion.
“As much as I like Shane, I’m not sure that would be the best thing for our city even though he’s a really good guy and he’s done a really good job (in Madeira Beach),” said Keys. “I just don’t know how that would sit. We do have a great team of city employees here. The ones we have and the managers we have I feel are very professional and done a good job managing through an economic downturn.”
City commissioners will vote to approve the RFP for a headhunter at the next commission meeting.
The city manager job became vacant when former Treasure Island City Manager Reid Silverboard stepped down May 8 after 10 years in the position.
In other action, commissioners:
• Approved $58,725 for the purchase and installation of a vehicle mobile digital video system and backup alarm. The new equipment will be added to 12 city trucks and two buses.
• Approved a 1-year extension to the city’s contract with M.T. Causley Inc., for building department services.
• Passed an ordinance amending the fees the city charges for fire inspections, which are now conducted by Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue District.
• Approved a bid from Beard Tennis Systems for $19,975 to resurface the clay tennis courts at Treasure Bay Golf and Tennis Center.
• Amended the license agreement with Sand Runners LLC to allow an additional valet stand to be located at the city community center to service additional customers needing help with transporting their gear to the beach.
• Approved a resolution to enter into an interlocal agreement with Pinellas County for distribution of funds from the next Penny for Pinellas, which goes before voters for approval in November. Treasure Island would receive an estimated $8.5 million from 2020 to 2030, if it passes.