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Dade City picks manager candidates
Five finalists for city manager will be interviewed by commissioners next month.
By HELEN ANNE TRAVIS, Times Staff Writer
Published January 23, 2008
DADE CITY - In their hunt for a city manager, commissioners chose five finalists to interview next month.
They are as follows:
- Gregg Williams, a Dade City resident with a background in real estate.
- William Poe Jr., assistant planner for Zephyrhills.
- Lyndon Bonner, a former interim administrator for Sumter County.
- James Vardalis, former city manager for Sewall's Point.
- Gary Word, village manager for Islamorada.
Interviews will be held Feb. 11 and 13.
Robert Mearns, a finalist in the city's last attempt to find a manager, was passed over this time. Commissioners liked him at first but were taken aback to learn he had been arrested and charged with drinking while driving in 1999 and 2000. Mearns applied again, and this time sent a letter to commissioners explaining his driving record.
He said he made those "poor choices" during a time when things were "happening in my life that were beyond my control." He voluntarily entered a "facility in Tampa" to seek help after the arrests, he wrote.
Also Tuesday night, city leaders decided to dip into the contingency fund to pay WilsonMiller, the engineering firm that helped Dade City prepare its Evaluation and Appraisal Report in 2007. Originally, WilsonMiller charged $48,500, but the city threw in an extra $15,000 to evaluate a plan to change the land use designation of the Congress Park neighborhood.
Since then, WilsonMiller has charged the city an additional $14,000 for the projects. In a letter, WilsonMiller said it had to respond to public inquiries and attend a city workshop about the possible land use change. These duties, among others, were not included in the company's original agreements with the city.
Mayor Hutch Brock said that the land use change debate was heated and required in-depth analysis.
"In reality, that takes time and money," he said.
The city has about $160,000 in its general contingency fund for unforeseen expenses.
In other news, next month most residents will see an increase of about $1.26 in their water bills to help pay for the city's new meter-reading system. The fee will last no more than 10 years. Residents may the fee in one lump sum.
Residents may have recently noticed higher than average water bills. Commissioners say that the new system is more accurate, and residents might have been undercharged in the past.