A looming budget season, stalled municipal projects, sanitation problems and a public works department “held together on a shoestring” are the reasons why North Bay Village needs a new interim manager, Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps said.
During a special meeting last Thursday, the North Bay Village commission voted 4-0 to hire Frank Rollason as the interim village manager.
Since April, Jenice Rosado has been serving in that capacity, her third role in the municipality as she was already the human resources director, as well as the deputy manager.
Rosado assumed the interim position after the commission signed off in April to end former manager Dennis Kelly’s employment agreement.
“Ms. Rosado has done an outstanding job,” Leon-Kreps said during the meeting. “But all the departments are behind in their work … due to circumstances that are not their own fault. This is not a one-person job. This person needs another body.”
To complicate matters for North Bay Village staff members, in March an unknown ventilation problem sickened several employees at the village offices at the bottom of the Lexi condominium building, 1700 J.F.K. Cswy. The village relocated to Causeway Tower, 1666 J.F.K. Cswy. In the meantime, staff members are working to have a new village hall building erected on Harbor Island, a project that Leon-Kreps said has stalled recently.
“Those are all things that can be fixed,” Rollason said during the meeting, addressing the mayor’s concerns for the village’s needs. “It’s like eating an elephant one bite at a time.”
At the special meeting, the decision to appoint Rollason as the interim village manager had its critics — from both the dais and the lectern.
“I am much more concerned that we are doing patchwork again. I would have preferred for Jenice to finish off,” said resident Gudrun Volker.
And Commissioner Richard Chervony read from a prepared statement at the meeting: “This job has not been posted, as it is not vacant. … Mr. Rollason, I don’t recall your application as one of the 25 to be considered for this job.”
Chervony said he thinks Rollason’s hiring should be investigated for possible Sunshine Law violations.
“This process has been very tainted,” he said.
The village issued an initial permanent-village-manager job advertisement, but the commission was not impressed with the two short-listed candidates and has recommenced the application process. As of right now, seven to 10 hopefuls have applied, Rosado said. There is no deadline to submit candidacy documents.
While a position for an interim village manager was not open, Rollason said he approached Leon-Kreps and offered his help with village business after he read newspaper reports about the Shuckers Waterfront Grill incident in June, wherein a deck collapsed, plunging dozens of patrons into the bay.
“I would have liked to see the building official speaking" at the press conferences regarding the collapse, Rollason told the Miami Herald after the meeting.
Rollason has about 40 years of experience working for the city of Miami. He started as a firefighter in the 1960s and eventually was chosen to manage the city’s Hurricane Andrew recovery task force. A stint serving as the Miami city manager was cut short because, according to Miami Herald reports, he did not yield to the then-mayor’s pressure to fire the city’s police chief. Rollason retired from the city of Miami in 2006 when he was the executive director of the Omni community redevelopment agency.
He currently works as an architect’s representative for Coral Gables-based Rodriguez and Quiroga Architects Chartered. Earlier this year, he was short-listed for the Miami Beach city manager position but eventually lost to Jimmy Morales. In 2006, Rollason unsuccessfully ran for the Miami City Commission.
The North Bay Village commission will hold another special meeting at 6:30 p.m. on July 22 to discuss and vote on Rollason’s employment agreement.