Among the nearly three dozen promises Bob Buckhorn made as he ran for mayor, one that shaped many others was to "change the city's economic DNA.” As a candidate, Buckhorn said that meant re-engineering how City Hall was set up, how it worked and the priorities it set. He promised a reorganization with a focus on facilitating growth and development.
That has largely set the tone for his administration, and on Feb. 23, 2012, Buckhorn unveiled a wide-ranging reorganization of City Hall staff assigned to development review, permitting and construction services.
Buckhorn named Bob McDonaugh the city's administrator for economic opportunity, a new position with expanded authority. Buckhorn said he wanted to "change the culture,” making City Hall more streamlined and ready to facilitate development.
At the time of the reorganization, the city was moving up to two dozen employees involved with various aspects of permitting — water, stormwater, solid waste, transportation — out of other departments to the Construction Services Center to create a one-stop shop for permitting and development review. The idea was to improve communication and coordination among these employees, making the permit process less fragmented.
The reorganization, which included changes to departments focused on neighborhoods, was expected to save more than $425,000 a year through the consolidation of existing positions, several of which were vacant at the time of the announcement. The changes came a week after Buckhorn's Economic Competitiveness Committee released its report on how Tampa could shake its image as a hard place to do business.
While not given the title deputy mayor, McDonaugh was assigned to focus on attracting new businesses to Tampa, helping grow entrepreneurship, and growing and retaining existing businesses. In that role, he was given oversight of all programs and divisions related to economic development and business regulation, specifically planning and development, the city's community redevelopment areas and the Riverwalk.
As part of the reorganization, Thom Snelling was named director of planning and development. Snelling was given responsibility for overseeing the consolidated Construction Services Center, which included planning and land-development coordination, as well as the divisions of housing, real estate and historic preservation and urban design.
Buckhorn promised a shakeup at City Hall and a consolidation of departments involved in the permitting and regulatory process. The reorganization he delivered did that, although it did not affect one department, the Tampa Convention Center, that he made part of his campaign promise. Overall, however, it was the kind of reorganization he promised, and it was accomplished in the first year. We rate this a Promise Kept.