Commissioners asked to evaluate administrator's first seven months and all were favorable.
Manatee County commissioners needed just a few weeks to realize they had what they felt was the best person for the Manatee County administrator job.
Scott Hopes had served as an interim administrator after the commission fired former administrator Cheri Coryea in March. He was hired full-time by the commission in May, and has received positive reviews on his work since according to reviews by Manatee County commissioners.
Manatee County Attorney William Clague said Dec. 14 that commissioners graded Hopes on leadership and management, budgeting and capital improvement projects, continuous improvement, and communication. He was rated as effective and highly effective in all four categories by the five commissioners that filled out evaluations.
According to the evaluations, commissioners praised Hopes for strong leadership and organizational skills, namely with his handling of the Piney Point emergency in northern Manatee County. Clague said some commissioners expressed a desire to see more public outreach and delegation of responsibilities.
Commissioners were complimentary of Hopes’ handling of the budgeting and capital improvement process within a very short time of taking over as county administrator. Several commissioners noted Hopes’ willingness to make changes to the structure and operation of county government and expressed optimism that these changes will pay off in the near future, particularly as they pertain to county finances.
Clague said commissioners recognized Hopes’ communication skills and complimented his use of a newsletter and text thread to communicate with them. Some commissioners did express their desire to see better communication, both within the organization and with the public.
“Overall, the comments in the evaluations were generally positive,” Clague said.
“I want to thank Scott Hopes because I think he's exhibited great leadership during a very difficult time,” Commissioner Misty Servia said. “I've been very impressed with his work ethic and his communication skills. I think there are a lot of opportunities in the coming year to improve processes as we've been talking about, and communication and outreach and engaging the public. I'm confident we're going to work on those things.”
Commissioners Reggie Bellamy and James Satcher did not fill out written evaluations, but met with Hopes privately to discuss any concerns. Both said they were happy with Hopes’ performance.
“I make sure I thank him every day for what he does for Manatee County,” Bellamy said.
Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh said Hopes “stepped into a hornet’s nest” and has done a tremendous job.
“He’s handled it beautifully,” she said. “There's always room for improvement, but he has taken the bull by the horns and made some tough decisions for this administration. He has done what he thought was right and I think in the future it's going to be making Manatee County better. The better Manatee County can be, the better it is for our citizens to have a better lifestyle overall and that's important.”
Commissioner George Kruse said that Hopes acted like “an eighth commissioner” who wanted to dictate policy as opposed to listening to policy decisions and acting upon that over his first several months.
“It has gotten a lot better in the past 60 days and it’s just a matter of shifting gears,” Kruse said. “I'm very happy with how this county has been moving with Scott Hopes and I think 2022 is going to be an excellent year with him.”
Hopes, who came to Manatee County from the Manatee County School Board, said he’s had “some pretty cool jobs around the world” and that his job as Manatee County administrator has been the most challenging.
“As hard as it is, I thoroughly enjoy working with all of you that I think we are on a trajectory to to make a great place,” Hopes said to the commission. “To live even better as we move your priorities forward, especially around the capital improvement plan, and some of the fantastic ideas that you're bringing forward from a social service perspective in addressing the needs of the homeless. I really appreciate the opportunity to continue to contribute to this to this great county and to work with each of you every day going forward.”
Hopes has a salary of $199,000 and his contract expires in June. Commissioners expressed a desire to put a contract in place for Hopes that renews automatically. Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge, who was elected as chairman of the commission for 2022 on Dec. 14, will negotiate a new contract with Hopes next year.
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