Thomas Hutka could be staying closer to home.
The former Broward County, Florida, public works director was offered the Frankfort city manager position Monday, but he is in the running for the top administrative post in a larger city just across Florida’s peninsula.
According to NBC2 in Fort Myers, Hutka is in a three-person race for the city manager job there. Fort Myers' city council will likely choose its top pick in a meeting that starts at 8:30 a.m. Friday.
Hutka has a meeting with Frankfort Human Resources Director Kathy Fields on Friday afternoon, per Fields. She said “the ball is really in Mr. Hutka's court” as to whether to accept Frankfort's $150,000 offer.
The Frankfort City Commission voted unanimously Monday to offer the job to Hutka.
Fields also noted that in discussions with Hutka, he has been “open in his disclosures.”
Frankfort Mayor Layne Wilkerson has not responded to a request for comment.
Fort Meyers has an estimated population of over 80,000. Frankfort’s population is estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau to be nearly 28,000.
Hutka’s offer in Frankfort is for $150,000 annually. Fort Myers' current city manager is retiring with a salary of $230,000, according to the News-Press, after being initially hired at $192,000 a year.
“He’s a very smart man and he does have a lot to offer,” Commissioner Katrisha Waldridge said of Hutka. “… He also should understand that a salary in Florida is going to be different than a salary in Kentucky. I think he understands that, and I’m hoping he just wants to get away from Florida and settle down here.”
Hutka, who ran public works in the Broward County community of nearly 2 million people, is in the running for the Fort Myers post with the former city manager of Deltona, Florida, and a former county manager from Greensboro, North Carolina.
Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson said that it was his "goal" to extend an offer to one of those three candidates, all of whom he called "highly qualified," on Friday.
"Now, you’re dealing with a body of elected officials so the goal may not be reached, but that is the goal," Anderson said. "... The intentions are for our City Attorney to sit down with the selected candidate and see if they can negotiate with them on Friday, but usually these things take some back and forth."
Hutka has not responded to a request for comment.
Hutka’s resume boasts 30 years of experience in public service as well as an undergraduate engineering degree from Princeton University and a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University.
Commissioner Kyle Thompson was the only other city elected official who responded to a request for comment regarding Hutka’s qualifications. Thompson lauded his experience prior to working in Broward County.
“His education, experience, and skills are perfect for the vision that this Commission has for the future of Frankfort,” Thompson wrote. “Mr. Hutka's experience with the revitalization of Cleveland, Ohio and his work in Osceola County, Florida are of particular interest to me as he had to hone his economic development skills at the highest of levels within large bureaucracies and while partnering with some of the largest corporations in the world.”
Current City Manager Tom Russell’s term as temporary full-time city manager expires at the end of May. Russell, who also serves as emergency management director for the city and county, started as interim city manager shortly after former City Manager Keith Parker was fired in August.
Russell makes $130,000, while Parker had a starting salary of $140,000. Parker said that his salary was around $145,000 when he was fired in a controversial 3-2 vote.