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Turnover in top job vexes CDD officials

WESTCHASE- The latest departure has officials looking at other management firms.

By STEPHANIE HAYES
Published May 4, 2007


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The revolving door spins again as Westchase waves goodbye to another taxing board manager.

Bob Fernandez from management company Severn Trent has taken a job with a Lakewood Ranch community development district. His last day is May 15.

Fernandez came to Westchase in November. He replaced CDD manager John Daugirda, who took over for Jim Ward in March 2005.

"I think that is very high on turnover. I'm surprised that we've been able to survive with that kind of turnover, " said CDD East supervisor Ernie Sylvester.

The move wasn't planned, said Bob Koncar, a Severn Trent general manager who came to Tuesday's CDD meeting to help deliver the news.

"We're committed to a smooth transition, " said Koncar. "Bob had an opportunity, and he took it."

Board members liked Fernandez and were sorry to see him go.

"I'm real happy for you, Bob, and I'm a little sad, " said CDD East supervisor Susan Edgerley, who praised his communication skills.

Fernandez's departure brought a sting of irony. The boards, unhappy with Severn Trent's bookkeeping and financial reporting, had recently considered leaving the firm.

But supervisors voted to stick with Severn Trent, largely based on Fernandez's good work.

"We all said we had a great comfort level with Bob, " said CDD supervisor Joseph Lechman.

Koncar announced that Andy Mendenhall, who works at the company's Tampa branch, would replace Fernandez.

It's a big job. The two taxing boards in Westchase handle finances and maintain community property such as landscaping, signs and bridges in the 3, 500-home community.

After viewing Mendenhall's resume, some supervisors wondered whether he is experienced enough to handle the task.

"We are an obviously large, complex CDD, and to have someone start with this size ... I'm very concerned, " said CDD East supervisor Lewis Patterson.

Koncar said he would explore options for the board and get back to them in June. In the meantime, Mendenhall, who was not at Tuesday's meeting, will be in charge.

"Give him a chance for at least a month or two, " said CDD supervisor Mark Ragusa.

Still, the boards voted to request new proposals from other management companies, as well as Severn Trent.

"This isn't a knee-jerk reaction over a new guy coming on board, " said CDD supervisor Bill Kemerer. "We have had continuous problems. We're not getting any farther ahead. Can any other firm do it better? I don't know."

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at shayes@sptimes.com or 813 269-5303.

[Last modified May 3, 2007, 07:01:14]


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