Florida man named new Valdez city manager this week
Dennis Ragsdale will take the helm this coming January officials say
Valdez Star photo
Dennis Ragsdale, addressing the crowd last week during the city-hosted get together to introduce the city manager candidates to the people of Valdez.
Dennis Ragsdale of St. Cloud, Florida, has been named the new city manager for the City of Valdez.
"He's accepted the position and we're just running it through legal," said Allie Hendrickson, the city's public information officer.
Ragsdale is currently the acting city manager in St. Cloud.
Hendrickson said particulars of Ragsdale's contract are currently under negotiation but that the major points have been agreed upon.
"The big details have been flushed out," she said.
This includes Ragsdale's salary, which has not yet been made public. The new city manager's predecessor, John Hozey, was paid $90,000 per year plus executive benefits in his first year with the city back in 2005; his salary grew to $120,000 per year, plus a $600 monthly car allowance and 40 days of paid leave at the time his contract with the city was terminated by city council last April.
Ragsdale stated his current salary as $130,000 per year plus a $5,000 yearly car allowance.
Ragsdale was one of four candidates for the position who visited Valdez last week for a round of interviews with the council.
Candidates included Lisa Von Bargen, the city's current executive director of economic development; Elke Doom from of Princeton, West Virginia; and Tito Alberto Haes of Duarte, California.
Ragsdale will take the helm this coming January. Interim city manager Robert Jean will finish out his contract with the city council, which expires in December.
During a meet and greet for candidates and Valdez citizens held at the Civic Center last Thursday, Ragsdale told the gathering he recognized the challenges Valdez is currently facing and felt his background would prove to be a good match with the town.
Accompanied by his wife Tasia, [pronounced Tah-sha] Ragsdale toured Valdez and participated in rounds of interviews with a special committee formed to interview candidates, as well as the Valdez City Council.
The vote to hire Ragsdale was unanimous according to the city's press release. Councilman Lon Needles was absent.
Ragsdale brings a strong background in municipal planning to the position - a skill Valdez will need to tap as the town moves forward with its beautification efforts and other plans, including the creation of a housing authority and the construction phases of the new boat harbor.
Ragsdale is has been certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners since May 1985, in addition to holding a master's degree in city planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Before his appointment as acting city manager of St. Cloud, Ragsdale
held several other key positions in the town which as an estimated population of 41,316 people - up from 35,183 counted in the 2010 census.
"Ragsdale served the City of St. Cloud for seven years as growth management services administrator and two years as the planning and zoning director," the city said. "He also served as the president of the Ragsdale Planning Group, Inc. from August 2005 to April 2015."
The city also said Ragsdale's belief in public transparency made his candidacy strong, despite the fact that on paper, a number of the candidates had more experience in actual city management.
In his letter of interest to Slavin Consultants, the firm hired by council to aid the search for a new city manager, Ragsdale said his background fits well with the published job description.
"Most of my career has been spent working with small cities with strong citizen participation," Ragsdale's letter of interest said. "I have enjoyed working with these communities and moving them toward their future vision by supporting short term goal implementation."
Photo courtesy City of Valdez
Tasia and Dennis Ragsdale.
He also said the job description fit in well with his career path, as well as his personal management style.
Despite the geographic and population differences between Valdez and the municipalities Ragsdale has worked with in Florida, he notes many similarities that strengthen his role.
"My responsibilities in the cities of Vero Beach and St. Cloud, Florida have provided experiences in all aspects of municipal government," he said, noting he also was promoted all through his tenure in both cities. "Like Valdez, Vero Beach owns and operates a municipal airport and marina. Throughout my career I have served as an integral part of the management team and have participated in strategic planning, developing budgets and preparing capital improvement plans for all departments."