TREASURE ISLAND — City commissioners, disappointed with the number and quality of applicants for city manager, decided Tuesday to start over and hire an executive search firm.
Commissioners were faced with a pool of 47 applicants and a short list of nine selected by a group of three consultants from the International City Management Association.
"The overall quality is the worst I've ever seen," said consultant Mark Durbin, former city manager of Kissimmee. He said he was "very disappointed" in the number of applicants and wasn't sure the reason for it other than an overall drop nationally in city manager applicants.
Mayor Robert Minning read though the nine short-listed candidates seeking feedback from commissioners and only two — Mark Kutney, former town manager of Loxahatchee Groves in Palm Beach County, and David Strahl, former assistant village manager of Mount Prospect, Ill. — won a majority of favorable votes from commissioners.
An attempt by Commissioner Larry Lunn to add former Madeira Beach City Manager Shane Crawford to the short list was rebuffed when three commissioners voted against the move.
"I know Shane, and I like him; he's a good man but I think he would bring a little too much drama to the city," Commissioner Ken Keys said.
Businessman Jim Everett's appeal to commissioners to interview Crawford failed to persuade them.
"I am a businessman and I look at results," he said. "Mr. Crawford has dramatically improved Madeira Beach. I'm just asking you to interview him."
Crawford officially resigned Monday following several contentious months of complaints and threats from residents and city officials aimed at him and his wife Cheryl, former city clerk.
Personnel Director Jennifer Poirrier said going out for a proposal from search firms would probably mean add another three to four months to the process.
Durbin estimated it would cost about $25,000 to hire a search firm but predicted it would increase applications.
Treasure Island lost its former city manager Reid Silverboard in May when he resigned after serving 10 years with the city and shortly after a March city election which saw two new commissioners elected who had been critical of city operations.
City Commissioner Ralph Kennedy said he was disappointed that an Internet search of some of the candidates' along with their cover letters raised "red flags" for him.
"I didn't see anybody who appeared to do research on the issues in Treasure Island," he said.