By Erika Webb
The Deltona City Commission will not act hastily when it comes to finding a new city manager.
The commission voted unanimously to accept City Manager Faith Miller's resignation at its meeting on Feb. 4. Also by unanimous vote, the city's leaders asked Deputy City Manager Dave Denny to serve as interim manager. He accepted.
But what's next?
"We have not addressed that at all," Mayor John Masiarczyk said in a phone interview. "We plan to take a slow approach and will probably discuss it at the next meeting."
At the commission meeting on Jan. 22, Commissioner Chris Nabicht told Ms. Miller she wasn't doing her job as "gatekeeper" for the city. Commissioner Nabicht expressed concerns about the Firefighter Pension Plan's investment strategy being sent to outside counsel for review, "at a billable rate of $275 an hour;" he wanted to know why City Attorney Becky Vose hadn't been given the task.
"It was an area of concern during the campaign," Commissioner Nabicht said in a phone interview. "I asked the manager to address it when I came on board and, basically, it was ignored. I wanted to do it quietly and not make a big stink. I just wanted to get it handled and fixed, but it wasn't."
Commissioner Nabicht's job as deputy fire chief for the city was eliminated in 2011.
He said he would like to see someone with at least seven to 10 years of experience managing a city comparable in size to Deltona, someone practiced in water, sewer and transportation matters.
He said in his view the right candidate should have knowledge of a more sophisticated water system than Deltona's current "infant water system," a strong background in economic development and experience with community redevelopment areas.
Looking ahead, he would like the city to "try and court" medical services, including pediatrics, which are desperately lacking in Deltona, Commissioner Nabicht said. He would like to see issues pertaining to veterans addressed as well.
"With the new VA (hospital), in Orlando we need to have transportation that's convenient and affordable," he said.
For Deltona students, Commissioner Nabicht said it would be important to create training opportunities to follow high school.
Also, Deltona needs "hands on, work related" programs for mechanics, plumbers and handymen, he said. "We need worker bees in this city."
"The mission of the city manager's office is to manage and direct all activities of the city government as outlined by the City Charter, Code of Ordinances and as directed by the City Commission. The city manager's office strives to provide the residents of Deltona with services that are efficient, cost effective, and meet their needs through customer service-based delivery," according to the city's website.
It remains to be seen what the commission will set forth as requirements for a new city manager, Commissioner Nabicht said.
But, he said, Mr. Denny is "certainly not out of the picture" as a permanent replacement. Calling him a "very fair man, a very competent man," Mr. Nabicht said his background with utilities would be beneficial as the city moves toward resolving its water and sewer issues.
Mr. Denny was the utilities director from January 2004 to July 2006 and then became the public works director when the utilities and public works functions were combined, according to the city's website.
"I don't know what his intentions are," Commissioner Nabicht said. "He may not even want it permanently after he's been in there as interim, but he's going to be an integral part of the transition that's taking place and I have all the confidence in the world that Dave will be able to be a good leader."
Commissioner Nabicht said the new commission has gelled together very well and needs a city manager who is going to lead his or her staff, not be led by that staff.
"The city manager's job is to effectively execute policy established by the commission. I did not see that in Ms. Miller," he said.
"It's going to cost money, what we did, but it's money very well spent to meet the future needs -- not only the current needs -- of the city," he added.
Ms. Miller, the city's first clerk, became interim city manager and then city manager after Steve Thompson left the position by mutual agreement in 2008.
Ms. Miller will receive a full severance package, including $132,702 in salary along with health and disability insurance.