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New Assistant City Manager Hired

By Breanne Williams in the Plant City Observer (October 24, 2019)

Richard Lilyquist was hired last week as City Manager Bill McDaniel’s second assistant city manager.

City Manager Bill McDaniel officially has his team fleshed out now, thanks to the hiring last week of Richard Lilyquist as his second assistant city manager.

City commissioners unanimously agreed to hire Lilyquist to McDaniel’s team during the commission meeting on Oct. 14. It’s been a long time coming. McDaniel was hired as the city manager in January 2018, but waited to take on assistant city managers until he could “get a good grasp of how the city is operating.”

He began his observations and slowly started the journey of a “deep dive,” which he says is his plan to make sure every aspect of the city is operating at its highest capability. A few months ago, he decided it was time to take his plans for the future of the City of Plant City and make them a reality. In July 2019, he tapped former HR Director Mercedes Perez to join his team.

Perez rounded out McDaniel’s process. While he focused on the big picture and getting things done, she could come in with her “outstanding ability to work with people” and her proven durability under stress to make sure everything goes according to plan. McDaniel praised her ability to work with others in a clear and concise manner and said with her on board, their deep dive would begin to unfurl.

Lilyquist’s qualifications are on a polar opposite spectrum from Perez’s. His background ranges from being the Director of Transportation Operations for the Florida Department of Transportation in Bartow, to being a County Engineer in Osceola County, the Director of Public Works for the City of Lakeland and the Director of Environmental Services for Spartanburg County, South Carolina.

Where Perez has mastered the art of relationships, Lilyquist is beyond proficient at understanding the ins and outs of ensuring a city can literally function. Together, they’re a formidable team and McDaniel said it was well worth the wait to get two such qualified applicants on board.

“I wanted to restructure our city operations, to divide how they’re managed,” McDaniel said. “(Lilyquist) has the skills in these fields, he has the experience needed to make very logical decisions when it comes to dealing with our building and engineering and utilities and things of that nature. Our team is diversified and more than qualified to handle really embarking on this ‘deep dive’ that I’ve had planned.”

During the Oct. 14 commission meeting, McDaniel presented an updated table of organization for the city now that his assistant city manager positions have been filled. According to McDaniel, the city now starts at the top with the citizens of Plant City. From there it trickles down to Mayor Rick Lott, Vice Mayor Nate Kilton and Commissioners Bill Dodson, Mary Mathis and Mike Sparkman. Under them serve City Attorney Ken Buchman, City Manager Bill McDaniel and City Clerk Kerri Miller.

The divisions split up under McDaniel’s branch. He will still solely look after the Finance Department, ran by Diane Reichard, Fire Rescue, led by Chief David Burnett, and Plant City Police, led by Chief Ed Duncan.

Perez will oversee Code Enforcement, managed by Tray Towles, Community Services, managed by Mike Karr, Human Resources and Risk Management, led by George Williams, Information Technology, managed by Kent Andrel, the Library, led by Tonda Morris, and the Recreation & Parks Department, led by Jack Holland. Lilyquist will oversee Building, led by Jesse Carr, Engineering, led by Michael Schenk, Planning & Zoning, managed by Julie Hamm, Solid Waste, led by Jill Sessions, Streets, Stormwater and Traffic, and Utilities led by Lynn Spivey.

It’s the start of a new age for the City of Plant City, and if McDaniel’s deep dive is successful, there are undoubtedly many changes ahead for the city from its core structure all the way up to its methods of service.

“I’ve been holding back,” McDaniel said. “I’ve got this long list of things that I want to get accomplished and when you’re trying to do it all, you’ve only got so many minutes in a day. I now have force multipliers and I want to get in there and make sure we are doing everything to the best of our ability. I’m very excited, this is going to allow me to start doing more. If I’m going to do a deep dive of the organization, I’m going to be working very closely with these two to move forward with that.”