Boards lament departure of Westchase CDD manager

Why well-liked and highly respected John Daugirda left management group Severn Trent isn't clear.

By Stephanie Hayes
Published November 17, 2006

A familiar face in the suburban taxing board circle is gone. And in Westchase, talk is stirring of even more change.

John Daugirda, district manager at Westchase and Tampa Palms Community Development Districts, has left management company Severn Trent, according to Westchase's interim manager, Bob Fernandez. Daugirda could not be reached for comment.

"I will be your district manager for the future," Fernandez told the board members at Tuesday night's meeting.

It's not clear why Daugirda left, but he was a bright spot for the boards. Month after month, Westchase supervisors spoke highly of Daugirda and others at Severn Trent who provide general management, including maintenance of common areas, landscaping, signs, fountains and fences.

Daugirda was well-regarded in Tampa Palms, as well.

"We miss him so much, we might just keep an honorary seat for him at the meetings," Tampa Palms CDD supervisor Randy Marlowe said in an earlier interview.

Marlowe held out hope that Daugirda might return under a different employer. "We're going to move heaven and Earth to get him back," he said.

Westchase supervisors have had less love for Severn Trent's bookkeeping. The company had problems this year when it tried to change software. The CDDs endured months of missing or shoddy financial reports.

"We either need to stay with them and see what we can do to improve our relationship" or look to other companies, said CDD supervisor Mark Ragusa, who has casually surveyed the industry and spoken with other companies. No formal requests for proposals have gone out.

Ideas have included finding a management company that will only handle administrative and maintenance duties, leaving a separate company to handle financial reports.

Supervisor Bill Kemerer stressed the need for action.

"I think it's been hanging over Severn Trent's head now for six months," he said. And even if the boards do get proposals from management groups, "there's a good chance Severn Trent will come back with the strongest presentation."

The boards voted to take the issue up at the Dec. 5 meeting.

ALSO AT THE MEETING: Residents in the Westchase village the Greens want cars to take it easy through the neighborhood.

Greens homeowner Steve Silvers said cars have zoomed down the neighborhood's main drag, Gretna Green Drive, at speeds close to 50 mph. Gretna Green Drive has a posted speed limit of 20 mph.

"There haven't been any major incidents, but who knows how many close calls," Silvers said.

A subcommittee of Greens residents enlisted a Westchase neighbor from Southern Traffic Services to perform a traffic study in the neighborhood.

The study found need for five crosswalks and signs, stop bars, and stripes in the road, Silvers said.

Silvers asked the Westchase East CDD to approve spending $8,000 for traffic calming. The board said yes, as long as their contracted engineering firm takes a look at the study first.

"The Greens ... has done a very good job of bringing that material to the community," said supervisor and Greens resident Ernie Sylvester.

Staff writer Emily Nipps contributed to this report. Stephanie Hayes can be reached at shayes@sptimes.com or 813 269-5303.