Coral Gables

Coral Gables

Coral Gables names interim city manager ahead of search

The Coral Gables City Commission named Carmen Olazabal as interim city manager at a special meeting Wednesday.

After last week’s resignation of Pat Salerno, a seasoned manager who served as the city’s top administrator for five years, commissioners unanimously chose Olazabal, an assistant city manager, to fill in until they complete a nationwide search for a permanent replacement.

Olazabal joined the city in September 2010 as building and zoning director and has served as assistant city manager for operations since January 2013. Salerno’s last day was Friday.

Vice Mayor Bill Kerdyk Jr. said he had initially thought about asking a former city manager to step in, but he felt Olazabal’s familiarity with the city would be valuable.

“I think it’s important to provide continuity to this institution,” he said.

Commissioners asked city staff members to create a short list of three firms to consider to head a national search for a new manager. The commission will choose a firm at another special meeting at 6 p.m. Monday at city hall, 405 Biltmore Way. Also on Monday, each commissioner will nominate someone to a citizen’s panel that will whittle down a list of candidates provided by the firm.

Mayor Jim Cason said that for such an important position in the city, the search will likely take four to six months.

“This is probably the most important decision a city commission can make,” he said.

Commissioner Patricia Keon, who sat on the citizen’s panel during the last search, in 2009, said the process is good as long as the commission seriously considers the panel’s recommendations.

Cason said on Friday that he hopes the commission will agree to select the new manager with a unanimous vote.

“We want to avoid bad vibes,” he said.

According to a human resources presentation made Wednesday, the search that led to Salerno’s appointment cost about $19,000. A look at estimated costs of enlisting four popular firms used by other Florida municipalities showed a range of $14,000 to $23,000.

Follow @joeflech on Twitter.

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