By Michael Salerno
For Hometown News
PORT ORANGE -- It will take a little longer than city leaders initially expected to determine who will become the next city manager.
At a recent City Council meeting, staff presented a revised schedule for the city manager search, which delays interviews with the managerial candidates as well as the final selection of a successor to the outgoing Ken Parker, who will retire on Feb. 28.
Assistant City Manager Shannon Lewis said interviews with the candidates were pushed back to Jan. 3-5, with a meet-and-greet community reception sponsored by the Port Orange-South Daytona Chamber of Commerce scheduled for the night of Jan. 4. In addition, she anticipated council members would select the new manager immediately following the interviews to allow seven to eight weeks notice for the new manager to start work.
"We know you want to make sure that we can meet that March 1 date (the day after Mr. Parker retires) so we're trying to make sure we can provide you all the background information that you need and meet your timeframe as well," she said. "We think this schedule can do that."
If the incoming city manager cannot begin work immediately following Mr. Parker's retirement on Feb. 28, Ms. Lewis would lead the city's operations in the interim.
Ms. Lewis said Lt. David Meyer of the city's police department is still conducting background checks on the five candidates for the job and expects completion by Dec. 20, with a final report submitted to council members at the end of the month.
Earlier in the year, staff had scheduled interviews with the candidates between Dec. 10 and Dec. 14, with the council making their pick on Dec. 21.
The five candidates are former Bellair Town Manager Stephen Cottrell, Atlantic Beach City Manager Jim Hanson, former Destin City Manager Gregory Kisela, Sebastian City Manager Al Minner, and former Clermont City Manager Wayne Saunders.
While council members felt the adjusted schedule meant it would still be possible to have a new manager in place immediately following Mr. Parker's retirement, they also expressed disappointment the original schedule wasn't followed in the first place.
"We've known about this for a year and I kind of feel like we should have planned this better and sooner so we had that full window we were anticipating in the first place," Vice Mayor Don Burnette said. "... Certainly, if we hire somebody who is currently employed and somebody who has to move, we have to give them sufficient time. I think this schedule imperils March 1."
In other business, the City Council voted to start its meetings half an hour earlier, from 7 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., beginning next month. City leaders said the decision was aimed at getting more citizens to speak on issues.
Mayor Allen Green initially suggested leaving a half-hour before the meeting open for public participation, in a similar fashion to Volusia County Council meetings. The discussion turned to moving up the start time of the meetings because council members were concerned that segmenting public participation away from the meeting would limit participation, not increase it.