Pasco County Administrator Dan Biles found himself in a position he doesn’t particularly enjoy on July 12.
On that day, he stood at the podium, facing the Pasco County Commission, while a resolution was being read. It detailed many accomplishments during his five-year tenure in the county’s top job.
The resolution praised Biles “for his dedicated service to Pasco County and his contribution to creating a people-focused organizational culture.”
It also lauds Biles’ focus on customer service and his commitment to training leaders, as well as empowering them to improve business operations.
His work in that area led to “radical cultural changes” within the organization resulting “in significant performance gains across the enterprise, as well as three different local and national ‘Best Places to Work’ awards,” the resolution notes.
The document also spells out some of Biles’ most notable accomplishments, including “his unwavering leadership and administrative creativity through the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic; his involvement in making the construction of the Ridge Road Extension a reality, providing an essential hurricane evacuation route and a new major corridor for Pasco County commuters; and his collaboration in the momentous Moffitt Pasco County Project, which will provide more than 14,000 jobs in a geographic footprint larger than Downtown Tampa and more importantly, bring hope to innumerable people for decades to come.”
Additionally, Biles’ “People, Purpose, Performance” leadership philosophy has influenced members of his team who will carry on that desire to “prioritize people, connect them to their purpose and get out of the way of their success,” the resolution states.
After Pasco County Clerk & Comptroller Nikki Alvarez-Sowles finished reading the resolution, Biles told the board: “It’s a little uncomfortable today because I don’t like standing up here. I actually prefer to be in the background, out of the spotlight, and let you or the team really take the credit for the great things that are happening.”
But Biles added: “I appreciate it. It’s been truly a remarkable five years. I don’t think I would’ve imagined the things that we’ve gone through the last five years, but thank you for all of the support, thank you to the team for all of the support, because I couldn’t have done it without the team, as well.”
He told commissioners he appreciated that they allowed him to work on building an organization that’s similar to corporations such as Publix, Southwest Airlines and USAA — that are focused both on their employees and the customers they serve.
“Thank you for everything you’ve done to support me over the last five years, even when we may not have agreed. That’s part of business, right?
“I think I’ve disagreed with every one of you from time to time. That’s part of a great work atmosphere … allowing discussion, debate and those kinds of things.
“Thank you for allowing me to tell you my opinion on stuff, because that’s also important,” he said.
Commissioners shared their thoughts on the administrator’s work, too.
Commission Chairwoman Kathryn Starkey told him he was the right leader, at the right time, to bring the county to where it is today.
Commissioner Jack Mariano cited Biles’ work with the Ridge Road extension project as a prime example of his leadership capabilities.
“When you had the opportunity to get Ridge Road done quickly, you took a step back and said, ‘You know what, we’re ready to go, but we have a big development that wants to come in here, a big job employer, a big opportunity,’ Biles told Mariano.
Biles didn’t disclose the name of the prospect at the time, but it turned out to be Moffitt, and the road needed to be reset to provide what Moffitt needed, Mariano said.
Mariano said he had disagreements with Biles.
“But we always discussed it. What I always liked is, I always got the truth, and with the truth, you can work with it,” Mariano said.
Commissioners Ron Oakley and Christina Fitzpatrick both mentioned their impatience at the pace of government, but also both thanked Biles for the work he accomplished.
Commissioner Mike Moore said the board made a good decision when it hired Biles.
Biles tested early
Constitutional officers Alvarez-Sowles and Tax Collector Mike Fasano also weighed in on Biles’ contributions.
Alvarez-Sowles, who has butted heads with Biles, especially over budget issues, told the administrator: “I respect you tremendously, and your leadership.”
She reminded those gathered that during Biles’ first year on the job, he contended with a sinkhole, wildfires, floods and Hurricane Irma.
“You were tested, right off the bat, to see what stuff you were made of. Sitting back, watching you and taking part in those conversations, I was really impressed. Very impressed with your leadership — about (your style of) encouraging and giving the power to your team, so they can do their jobs and getting out of the way so they can perform well,” she said.
Fasano attended the meeting specifically to offer some remarks about Biles.
“Over the last five years, I’ve seen a dramatic change, a great change for Pasco County. Not only because of your (county board) leadership, but because of someone like Dan Biles.
“I want to thank Dan.
“Thank you for the great work you have done for our county,” Fasano said.
Pasco County used to be viewed as a stepchild of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, but that’s no longer true, Fasano said.
The former legislator also cited Biles’ work to help bring the Ridge Road extension to fruition.
Fasano said he used to seek funding every year for that project. At one point, representatives from the Florida Department of Transportation asked Fasano to drop the request, telling him the road would never happen.
“But it did happen, under Dan Biles leadership,” Fasano said.
Biles told the board that he’ll miss both the work and the people he worked with.
“At the end of the day, we have a great team that does great work, and Mike (incoming County Administrator Mike Carballa) is going to step in and take the county to the next level, with your support and the support of the rest of the team,” Biles said.
Published June 20, 2022