HIGH SPRINGS – At a time when the City of High Springs desperately needed a city manager with exceptional experience, excellent leadership skills and knowledge of water and wastewater issues, Lee Vincent stopped by to introduce himself and offer his services on an interim basis to the City. Paul Sharon of Florida City/County Managers Association in Jacksonville called Vincent after being contacted by the City for assistance.
Vincent, who lives 20 minutes away in northwest Gainesville, was asked to consider the position and subsequently contracted with the City to assist for a 30-day period.
Many thought Vincent was the ideal individual to step in for High Springs given his 13 years of experience as a city manager, which would prove valuable in the city’s day-to-day operations and in assisting the commission identify potential permanent city manager candidates. He served as city manager in Waldo, Starke and Port St. Joe, Florida, where he retired in 2008. He is licensed as a Class C Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator and Class C Drinking Water Plant Operator, has 26 years of service in the Navy where he retired at the rank of Captain in 1994, and has post-graduate studies in public administration.
In a recent interview about the wastewater system, he said, “Once the city determines what they believe will be the cost, and follow up with discussions with our engineers and the citizens, a decision can be made whether to go with a gravity feed sewer system, where possible, or look at using low pressure grinder pumps or look at the latest available technology.”
Since becoming Interim City Manager about a month ago, Vincent said he has attempted to take on some of the administrative load from City Clerk Jenny Parham, who has been serving in a dual capacity as interim city manager and clerk. “By taking some of the load off of her,” he said, “she can get back to her primary function as a city clerk.”
“I review anything that as a city manager I can make a decision on,” said Vincent, who slogged through paperwork the first few days of employment to determine what items needed to be tackled and by whom.
Right now, staff is currently working on the sewer system with respect to the “tweeners,” those approximately 70 residents whose homes were built after the sewer installation cutoff date for federal grant funding.
Rather than having the city clerk do all the investigation on easements and required documents for USDA Rural Development, Vincent said, “I have been working with staff and Jenny to provide the required information for submission by Mittauer & Associates,” the city’s engineering firm for this project. “Easements for the grinder pump stations are examples of information that needs to be provided by the City,” Vincent said.
Vincent is also working to address housekeeping issues with the water and wastewater plants. “I’ve also tried to make myself available to the citizens to answer any questions they might have, he said. As a city manager, I think part of my job is to keep the commission as up-to-date as I can on items they should be aware of and to address citizen concerns at the city staff level rather than elevating it to the commission level.”
Vincent also gets out of the office and talks with City workers about their jobs. “Frankly, I hear a lot of pride expressed by our employees about the jobs they are doing, and what they are able to accomplish with reduced manpower.” Meeting business owners is another important function for Vincent. “I am trying to walk around the city and meet various business people so they can associate a face with a job title,” he explained.
“I’m getting a kick out of this job,” he said. “The reason I became a city manager in the first place was because I enjoy the job.”
Vincent’s 30-day contract with the city was set to expire on Tuesday, Nov. 13. Whether the commission will retain him longer will likely depend on the status of negotiations with their choice of Edwin Booth for a permanent city manager.
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