By Mary Thurwachter
With Town Manager Deborah Manzo’s imminent departure, the Lantana Town Council has begun its search for her successor. Manzo, who began working for the town in 2012, announced in March she had accepted a position as administrator in Okeechobee County. Her last day will be June 19.
In the meantime, Development Services Director Nicole Dritz was appointed to serve as interim manager, working beside Manzo to learn the ropes.
The council also agreed to choose a selection committee, hire a search firm, look for a recruiter, advertise the position and talk further about how to best include residents in the selection process.
“Nicole has the experience and has worked under Debbie,” council member Lynn Moorhouse said at the April 12 meeting. “I recommend she be moved up to work under (Manzo’s) wing because she’s still got all the information about this town that is extremely valuable.”
That would help in the transition, Moorhouse said. “And, if down the road we go ‘this is really working out nicely,’ if we wanted to leave Nicole in that position, could we do that without going through the search and interviewing process?”
That could be done, Town Attorney Max Lohman answered. “A search isn’t necessarily required and you could promote from within.”
However, council member Mark Zeitler said he thought the town really ought to do a search.
“We’re looking for a town manager that’s got some experience. Nicole is right now tied up with her building services.”
Moorhouse said he had no issue with a search.
“We’re not going to find somebody between now and June 19. You don’t want to put somebody new in here who doesn’t know the town. … I can see this really going to pot June 19 if we have a stranger we’re still interviewing.”
Once the council hires a search firm, the process would take several months before the position is filled, Manzo said. Having an interim manager in place would be wise, she said.
“Nicole has been the town clerk before,” Manzo said. “She’s also been the interim library director and helped out and did projects and public works when we were going through changes with the director and assistant director. She has a variety of knowledge that would be useful.”
At the town’s April 26 meeting, the council agreed to hire Colin Baenziger & Associates executive search firm — the same company Lake Worth Beach has employed to find a replacement for its departing city manager, Mike Bornstein — for a cost not to exceed $26,500. Lantana’s search will be limited to candidates within the state.
Mayor Robert Hagerty said that the town had received a letter from Bornstein, who was Lantana’s town manager before Manzo, expressing an interest in the Lantana job. Bornstein announced his resignation from Lake Worth Beach in April.
In other action, the Town Council:
• Created a new position in the development services department to be paid for by the building and permitting fee restricted reserves. The job, with salary and benefits costing $87,845, would require the employee to inspect construction sites for compliance with town and state laws. Ú
By Mary Thurwachter