by Michael Salerno
For Hometown News
PORT ORANGE - After screening 12 applicants for city manager, a citizens committee has narrowed the field down to seven finalists.
The 10-member committee selected Robert Bartolotta, Stephen Cottrell, Matt Fulton, Jim Hanson, Gregory Kisela, Al Minner and Wayne Saunders.
Howard Tipton, a former Daytona Beach city manager who chaired the screening committee, said the final seven would now go through a vetting process, with the city's police department conducting background checks on each finalist before the committee makes its recommendations to the City Council.
"I am confident that we have at least three or four solid candidates," Mr. Tipton said.
Sixty-seven applicants expressed interest in the job. Dick Kelton, a local representative for the Range Riders - a group of retired city managers that provide professional advice and guidance to managers in transition - handpicked 12 candidates for the screening committee to consider.
The minimum qualifications City Council members expect from the managerial candidates, according to the job announcement for the position, are a bachelor's degree in public or business administration and five years experience as city or county manager in a city or county of comparable size, or related private sector experience.
The new city manager's compensation package, including salary and benefits, will range between $120,000 and $160,000, depending on qualifications and experience.
City leaders are expected to pick the new manager in December, so he will begin work immediately after City Manager Ken Parker's departure. Mr. Parker said he would retire on Feb. 28.
Mr. Bartolotta is the city manager of Sarasota and previously served as town manager of Jupiter.
Mr. Cottrell formerly served as city manager of Windsor, Vt., and town manager of Belleair in Pinellas County.
Mr. Fulton, the only candidate without experience managing a city in Florida, is the former city manager of Coon Rapids, Minn.
Mr. Hanson is the city manager of Atlantic Beach. Before then he was city manager of LaGrange, Ga., rising from the position of assistant city manager.
Mr. Kisela is a former Walton County administrator and Destin city manager.
Mr. Minner is the city manager of Sebastian, where he's served as the Indian River County city's chief administrative since 2005. He has also worked for the cities of Fort Meade in Polk County and Vandalia, Mo.
Mr. Saunders recently resigned as Clermont's city manager after almost three decades on the job.