Pasco County commissioners are going to allow the search for a new county administrator to proceed as scheduled despite voicing concerns over the “unimpressive” applicant pool.
Several commissioners said they were disappointed to see that Pasco County received just 64 applications, most of which don’t meet the basic qualifications.
Recruiter Renee Narloch of Bob Murray & Associates told commissioners that several potential applicants were reluctant to apply for the post because of Florida’s Sunshine Law.
“She seemed to think that some people withdrew because they worried about their jobs if it became public,” Commissioner Pat Mulieri said.
Another applicant, former Polk County Administrator Mike Herr, also withdrew. He started working in Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s administration a few months ago.
Mulieri and Commissioner Kathryn Starkey were the most outspoken last week in their criticism after seeing the initial list. Both were less critical Tuesday after having a chance to review all of the applicant’s résumés.
“There’s some worthy people there,” Starkey said. “I think there’s enough that we can interview three qualified candidates, but I would have liked to have had a bigger pool to choose from.”
Narloch is scheduled to present her recommendations on May 6. Commissioners were planning to interview the finalists the week of May 20. Narloch has offered to extend the recruitment period to widen the search.
Commissioner Henry Wilson said he saw applicants who met the criteria he asked for.
“I see quite a few that have not,” he said. “I’m still going through them. I’m not overly excited. I would not be against extending it.”
Mulieri said she didn’t see the point.
“I don’t think by extending it we’re going to get a better pool,” Mulieri said. “I think we gave it our best shot. It’s disappointing because we have done some amazing things and been recognized in the region. I was just thinking there would be people who would want to jump onboard this train and say let me take you there.”
Several commissioners said they were impressed with one applicant in particular, Irving, Texas, City Manager Tomas Gonzalez, who recently signed a six-month extension with the city.
“He was very interesting,” Starkey said.
Gonzalez has made headlines for drawing one of the highest government salaries in Texas at $450,000 a year. The county has won prestigious management awards, but Gonzalez has been accused of ethical violations.
Gonzalez was alleged to have taken sports tickets and gratuities from vendors doing business with Irving, according to published reports.
Gonzalez interviewed Monday for the executive director position at Tampa Bay Water and made a strong impression. “He was almost the unanimous No. 1 choice,” Wilson said.
Chairman Ted Schrader, who also sits on the Tampa Bay Water board, said Gonzalez withdrew his name from consideration for the Tampa Bay Water position after board members learned he had not disclosed information regarding ethical complaints filed against him.
“That’s why I’m glad we hired a recruiter to do those background checks,” Schrader said. “I’m going to let Renee do her job and see what she brings us.”