Dade City Manager Leslie Porter has made marked improvement in some areas and has room to grow in others — based on a recent performance review and evaluation from the Dade City Commission.
Porter scored a combined 3.98 out of a possible 5.0 points on the evaluation, which was delivered at the commission’s Nov. 9 meeting.
The evaluation covered a period from May 2020 through October 2021.
Each Dade City commissioner completed a summary evaluation scoring sheet and added comments.
Porter was graded on five broad categories:
Relationship building: 3.9
Financial acumen: 4.3
Mayor Camille Hernandez led the evaluation, initially highlighting Porter’s strengths and accomplishments of late. For instance, she noted that Porter has enhanced her communication skills during the evaluation period.
Hernandez said the city manager’s weekly administrative updates to commissioners have been “very well-received and encouraged, so I ask you to continue to do that.”
She also praised Porter’s updates and judicious response to sensitive issues; increased visibility and community outreach; and, improved grasp of municipal governance, among other positives.
“It certainly has not gone unnoticed that you have stepped up,” Hernandez said.
During her tenure, Porter has managed through a pair of cybersecurity incidents; negotiated a new collective bargaining agreement between the city and the West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association; and resolved crucial land actions to prevent possible de-annexations.
She also led the city’s COVID-19 response — developing policies for staffing, virtual meetings and access to public facilities.
While describing Porter as “moving in the right direction,” Hernandez identified areas in which Porter can focus more energy.
For instance, Hernandez there’s a need to foster more team-building and respect, throughout the workplace.
The commission also wants Porter to use best practices in setting city policies and procedures. For instance, the city manager should take advantage of guidance and resources available through the Florida City and County Management Association.
The commission would like Porter to document and coordinate performance reviews and evaluations of other city staffers “in a more-timely fashion.”
Holding fellow city staffers accountable is another issue “that’s come up repeatedly,” Hernandez noted.
“All in all, I think it was kudos for the strengths that are witnessed, but I do think there’s some areas that we need to hold people accountable,” the mayor said of Porter.
“There’s just so much activity, we need to have systems in place to make sure that we are not dropping the ball and things are happening,” Hernandez said.
When the city drops the ball on an issue, it embarrasses the commission and reflects on city staff, Hernandez said.
“I do think these are resolvable issues, so I encourage you to look at these, resolve these, and keep moving forward,” Hernandez added.
She also emphasized that Porter should cross-train new staff and use them in various departments, at the city manager’s discretion.
Porter’s response to the evaluation was brief.
“Thank you for the feedback. I appreciate it, and I appreciate the opportunity,” said Porter, who was hired as the city’s finance director in 2014.
She became interim city manager in February 2019, assuming the post held for many years by Billy Poe, who took a similar position with the City of Zephyrhills.
Porter was selected after the city was unable to reach a contract agreement with Christopher Edwards, its initial top candidate for the position, who was then a real estate associate in Tallahassee and previously had served as deputy director of the Tallahassee-Leon County Office of Economy Vitality.
Instead of choosing to interview a list of new candidates, the commission opted to proceed with Porter for the post. She started with a base salary of about $99,000.
Before coming to Dade City, Porter spent nearly a decade working as town treasurer for the Town of Chesapeake Beach, in Maryland.
She has a bachelor’s degree from George Mason University and a master’s degree from George Washington University.
Published Nov. 24, 2021