ZEPHYRHILLS — Former City Manager Steve Spina is looking for a government job, but it’s not his old position at Zephyrhills City Hall.
Spina interviewed this week with County Administrator Michele Baker for the assistant county administrator position being vacated by Suzanne Salichs. He is one of five finalists — the only one from Pasco County — competing for the job of assistant county administrator for public services.
In his application, Spina said his teaching contract with the University of South Florida ends in May. In his letter to Baker, Spina wrote that he “missed the opportunities to be involved with local government and the community engagement and day to day challenges and accomplishments that local government service brings.”
Such a statement might explain why his name has been mentioned as a possible successor to embattled City Manager Jim Drumm, who addressed the rumor in an open letter.
“One rumor that is spreading around the city is that this is a movement to re-install former City Manager Steve Spina,” Drumm wrote. “I have heard that Dr. Spina recently ended his employment with USF as a visiting professor and is looking for a local government manager position.”
Spina served as city manager for 15 years before retiring in 2011 to pursue a teaching career. He served as director of development for Zephyrhills from 1987-1996.
“If it is the desire of city council members to take this unique opportunity to re-hire Dr. Spina, I will voluntarily come to an agreement to step aside and move on for the good of our city,” Drumm wrote.
Spina said he’s focused on landing the county job — he applied March 4 — a week before Zephyrhills council members first voiced dissatisfaction with Drumm.
The public service administrator manages more than 400 county employees across multiple county departments, including Animal Services, Community Development, Parks, Libraries, Elderly Nutrition and Public Transportation.
Baker said she’s looking for a someone with a “passion for public service,” experience dealing with complex budgets and great people skills. “Their customer is the public,” she said. “They’re the ones on the front lines interacting with our citizens every day.”
Baker hopes complete the second round of interviews and background checks by mid-April and be in a position to make an offer by the end of the month.
The other finalists are Erik Bush, financial manager for a school district in Normal, Ill., and a former city manager; Dale “Doc” Dougherty, Parks and Recreation director for Macon-Bibb County, Ga.; Cathy Pearson, assistant county administrator for Citrus County; and Maureen Rischitelli, assistant to the district manager for The Villages, a retirement community of 100,000 people in Lake, Marion and Sumter counties.