Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Harmer Given Glowing Review

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Harmer Given Glowing Review

Article excerpt

SARASOTA COUNTY: After turmoil, board united behind administrator

SARASOTA -- Now operating with their fourth administrator in the past four years, Sarasota County commissioners believe they have finally found the one.

The board has united around Administrator Thomas Harmer, giving the county's top manager rave reviews on his first annual performance evaluation -- a vast shift from those who have held the post before him.

Commissioners praised Harmer's leadership, strides on the budget and communication, which they each agreed Wednesday had improved dramatically compared with his predecessors.

The board's public praise for Harmer came almost a year after the same commission unexpectedly voted 4-1 to fire former administrator Randall Reid after less than two years on the job.

"There's a confidence level I haven't seen in a while, and that's made a big difference," Commissioner Christine Robinson said. "But the biggest thing to me was the budget process. I have never seen the budget in as much organizational shambles as last year, and this year, it's been a complete 180."

Despite stepping into the position at a difficult time, Harmer was able to douse fires, yet still lift confidence and morale among the county's roughly 2,200 employees, Robinson said.

Commissioners touted Harmer's leadership style -- a quiet confidence that commands respect from staff and elected officials. Each commissioner either gave him a summary rating of "above average" or "excellent" on the annual evaluation.

Since assuming the interim role last year -- and later being hired for the administrator job -- Harmer has led efforts to combat the community's growing homeless population.

He also helped to resolve budget woes that were recently projected to become a $22 million deficit by 2016, and led government planning efforts associated with the University Town Center, the only indoor shopping mall to open in America this year and a major boon to the local economy. …

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