County Administrator John Gallagher interviewed applicants from across the country for a new assistant county administrator position. He really only needed to look across the hall.
Heather Grimes, who managed the county's customer service division, has been named assistant county administrator for internal services. She will oversee about 250 county employees in departments such as customer service, purchasing and information technology.
County commissioners also confirmed Christopher Dorsey as the county's new budget director and approved a new policy to allow up to $10,000 in relocation expenses for top administrators.
The new policy will help Gallagher attract top talent as he continues to replenish his staff. He is in the process of hiring a new fire chief and an assistant county administrator to replace Anthony Lopinto and Dan Johnson, who retire this year. Johnson supervises departments such as Parks and Recreation, Animal Services and Libraries.
Grimes and Dorsey will take over duties formerly held by Mike Nurrenbrock, the county's director of the Office of Management and Budget. Nurrenbrock retires Friday after 30 years with the county. His top lieutenant, Budget Manager Mike Clark, is retiring in August.
In January, commissioners approved a reorganization that divides Nurrenbrock's duties between two new positions: budget director and assistant county administrator for internal services.
Grimes joined Pasco County in 2004 and worked her way up from a management position in the Information Technology Department. She holds a bachelor's degree in management information systems from the University of Florida and a masters of business administration from Saint Leo University.
She has worked closely with Gallagher and Chief Assistant County Administrator Michele Baker to develop and implement the county's strategic plan. She also stepped in as acting chief information officer from 2006 to 2007.
"Heather was at the top of my list for IT," Nurrenbrock said. "I got trumped by the county administrator and assistant county administrator. I know Heather will do a great job."
As budget director, Dorsey will work directly with commissioners on the budget process. He received both his undergraduate and masters degrees in public administration from the University of Tennessee.
Dorsey served as budget manager for the city of Memphis for eight years until leaving in 2005 to become city manager for Red Bank, Tenn., a suburb of Chattanooga. He served in that position for six years but was fired in a 3-2 vote last October following a tumultuous year.
Red Bank city council members praised Dorsey's financial and budgetary skills but were critical of his handling of personnel matters, particularly his firing of the city's police chief, according to published reports.
"My old job as city manager was very political," Dorsey said.
Gallagher said Dorsey was far and away the most qualified candidate to succeed Nurrenbrock. "His personality and work ethic seemed to fit, too," he said.
That personality struck a chord with Commissioner Pat Mulieri, who met him for the first time during Tuesday's meeting. "He looks happy, and we're not used to a budget director that looks happy," she said.