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Commissioner Phill Younger spends more than 15 hours a week in his office studying town materials and preparing for meetings.
Longboat Key Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 4 years ago

Election: Younger finds commission work satisfying

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

At-large Commissioner Phill Younger works at least 40 hours a week doing a job that doesn’t make him a dime.

If you don’t believe him, just ask his wife.

“If he’s not up in his office doing research and preparing for meetings, he’s at a meeting or a town function,” said Fanny Younger.

The work and the lack of pay don’t bother him.

“If you are going to do the job and do it right, you have to put an extensive amount of time in and know the issues,” Younger said.

Younger has the rare opportunity of running for the at-large seat for a second term against a challenger who resigned the same seat in May 2010.

“I was appointed to fill the position that my opponent abandoned and quit,” said Younger, who uses the campaign slogan, “Phill Younger doesn’t quit.”

Younger believes the slogan also holds true when discussing what he has been able to accomplish during his first term.

He pushed for more clarity in the budget process and was eventually able to convince town staff to get rid of what Younger called “an archaic” green bar report system that left him sifting forever to find budget numbers.
Younger converted everything from the 1980s green bar pages report to an Excel spreadsheet.

The next item Younger tackled was the town’s beach program.

Key resident Lenny Landau alerted Younger about beach project data inconsistencies in 2010.

Town staff and its beach consultant were calling for an island-wide beach project at the time that would have cost town taxpayers $46 million.

But Younger saw red flags.

“The data presented showed that most of the town’s beach was at the exact same width as it was after a beach project was performed in 2006,” Younger said.

Younger pushed for a scaled-back beach project that involved renourishing the island’s high-erosion areas and closely monitoring the rest of the beach.

That project is being performed this summer and has saved the town at least $30 million by Younger’s calculations. But, it wasn’t an easy sell.

“There was a lot of push back, at first, from commissioners and staff,” Younger said.

Younger is also proud of his and the commission’s work in agreeing to a new firefighter contract that caps the town’s liability.

Younger, an Atlanta native and Georgia Tech graduate who retired in 2001 as a manager of technical support area and line maintenance for Delta Airlines, has a knack for problem solving.

Working his way up the Delta corporate ladder, Younger was given problem after problem; his job was to come back with solutions to save the company money.

Younger, who has been coming to Florida since he was a child, knew he would live on Longboat Key some day when he and Fanny drove over the Ringling Bridge in 1986 while looking for property. She turned to him and said, “I don’t know if we can afford a doorknob here, but this is it.”

Younger and his wife became permanent residents of the Key in 2005, and Younger soon became involved in town affairs, including the Longboat Key Turtle Watch, the Longboat Key Public Interest Committee and the town’s Code Enforcement Board.

“I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction out of accomplishing something positive, and I feel like I’m helping my community and serving it well as a commissioner,” Younger said.

Phill Younger
Age: 67
Hometown: Atlanta
Family: Wife, Fanny; two daughters; one granddaughter
Hobbies: Younger reads at least two fiction books a week, which he says are his main form of entertainment. Traveling and tennis also make the list.
Interesting Fact: Younger, who grew up attending segregated schools in Atlanta, helped quell a race riot during his one-year military tour when he was promoted from infantry platoon leader to acting commander for three months “by treating everyone the same.”

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