PORT ORANGE — With the political tension of the elections behind them, the City Council is moving forward with hiring a permanent city manager, making Riverwalk a reality and forming a long-term plan to address flooding issues.
Port Orange leaders said they hope the new term will bring stability to the city after a slew of department head resignations over the summer that came amid heavy scrutiny in the wake of $411,500 in unauthorized water meter purchases that were discovered in June.
The new council includes former Port Orange Police Lt. Scott Stiltner, who won Dennis Kennedy’s District 4 seat after his opponent, Larry McKinney, dropped out of the race in October.
He will be sworn in on Dec. 2. District 1 Councilman Bob Ford retained his seat after defeating Sonya Laney.
Council members said they are focused on forming a plan to address flooding concerns that have been at the center of much debate after heavy rainfall in September damaged more than 80 homes in the city. On Nov. 19, the city will host a workshop to address flooding issues at 6:30 p.m. at the Lakeside Center. The city is also in the process of seeking a consultant to study why the city’s wastewater flow doubled on the morning of Sept. 24, obstructing the flow of storm water.
Ford said that instead of debating what went wrong at the workshop, he’d like to see leaders and the public identify problem areas and form a solution.
“We need long-range planning instead of short-term fixes,” Ford said.
Interim City Manager David Harden said he’s moving on permanent hires for the city’s public works director, fire chief, finance director, assistant city manager and public utilities director — all of whom departed since June.
The council is also moving forward with the search for a permanent city manager. During a special meeting Dec. 16 the council will select bids for a firm to conduct a national search for candidates and facilitate the hiring. The council will also make 15 appointments to a citizens advisory committee that will provide input on the hiring.
Mayor Allen Green said that while he welcomed input from citizens, the decision on whom to hire is ultimately up to the council. He said that he had concerns that a citizens committee could open the process up to too much scrutiny.
“I think it’s another layer in the process,” Green said. “It might help, but personally I don’t see it.”
Stiltner and Ford have both been long-standing opponents of providing tax incentives to complete the project. Stiltner, however, said he is open to discussing a detailed agreement and said he would like the city to form a comprehensive policy on tax increment funding that could be applied to all future developments.