NEW PORT RICHEY — On her second day on the job, City Manager Debbie Manns got an introduction to a wide sampling of issues facing New Port Richey during the city council meeting Tuesday night.
A plump agenda greeted her, including items about the Hacienda restoration project, complaints about a proposal to redirect Circle Boulevard traffic, Sims Park overhaul plans, a special exception to allow a charter school along School Road, a Playful City Award presentation, an ordinance about pensions and appointments to city boards, among other topics.
Jovial council members welcomed Manns.
Councilman Chopper Davis noted the city got $1 million in state funding for the Hacienda restoration project on her first day on the job. Davis joked what Manns might do for an encore.
Mayor Rob Marlowe and other city leaders ushered Manns to a Monday event of the Municipal Association of Pasco, where she met some of her peers from other cities. The car-trip discussion turned to some of the close encounters with wild animals in the area, Marlowe recalled Tuesday night. He and others recounted how an alligator once tried to dine on its trainer at a downtown community event.
“We’re pleasantly surprised that you are here still this evening, but welcome aboard,” Marlowe said with a big chuckle to Manns.
Library Director Susan Dillinger was all smiles as she took her regular seat at a table below the council podium. She had served as interim city manager since October 2012, following the sudden resignation of former City Manager John Scheniger, so she was delighted no longer to be juggling two jobs.
After the council meeting, Manns said she was impressed how well council members seem to be in tune with residents, businesses, visitors and other stakeholders.
“I think that’s very important because you have to see what’s around you first to know how to advance the city,” Manns remarked in a video interview.
Manns’ career in local government spans more than 25 years and four municipalities, she wrote in her introductory letter during the interview process.
Council members were impressed with her economic development efforts in her previous jobs. During her tenure at Clayton, Ohio, she had helped secure a distribution facility with 1.5 million square feet.
Manns also prepared a parks and recreation master plan for Clayton, similar to the task New Port Richey faces in expanding and redoing Sims Park.