Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bowen: Pasco administrator sets out to do the impossible — for fun

Pasco County Administrator Dan Biles, right, speaks with his predecessor Michele Baker during a May 2 budget workshop.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Pasco County Administrator Dan Biles, right, speaks with his predecessor Michele Baker during a May 2 budget workshop.

Dan Biles draws inspiration from Walt Disney.

''It's kind of fun to do the impossible.''

The quotation is on a placard sitting on a shelf in Biles' office. It was a gift from colleagues during his time as public works director in Corpus Christi, Texas.

"I love that quote,'' Biles said, "and it is fun to do something that nobody thinks you can do.''

Disney isn't his only motivation. Biles' Twitter account shows frequent posts about leadership and performance.

That's basically the reason for his new role. Being a leader and getting things done — whether impossible or not — are why he is now Pasco County administrator, managing a 2,300-employee, billion-dollar enterprise delivering services to the public.

Biles' background in building infrastructure, private development and his command positions with the Air Force led county commissioners to hire him away from Jefferson County, Ala., eight weeks ago. This is his third week on the job and his first going solo after the departure last week of retiring administrator Michele Baker.

Most of his time has been spent building a budget to present to commissioners in July. It means matching the demand for services with available resources, even when you don't yet know what those resources will be. The preliminary tax roll from Property Appraiser Gary Joiner isn't due until the end of the month.

After the number crunching come more numbers.

Biles wants to see every fire station. There are 26 of them, counting a few staffed by volunteers. Biles figures it will take 18 to 24 months to visit them all and chat with the rank and file. Then he'll start again.

He plans to tour every park. He's anxious to view the cool stuff going on inside the library branches. He looks forward to talking to the front-line employees and the residents who are the county's customers.

What he doesn't want to do is be handcuffed to the desk in his third-floor corner office of the West Pasco Government Center. Even if the office trappings include the Disney motivator; a 12th man commemorative from his alma mater, Texas A&M University and a coin collection that includes a bottle cap from a Texas-brewed black lager that isn't available outside the Lone Star State.

Biles said he was drawn to the administrator's job by Pasco County's current operations, the municipal services it provides to nearly half a million people, and — let's not kid ourselves here — the warm weather. (He had some familiarity with Florida because of his late father's roots in Fort Pierce.)

Departing isn't in the plans, as attested to by the message he tweeted after five days on the job.

"Week one of 1,040 down (God, family & BoCC willing); and a good week it was here in #pascocounty.''

Do the math and you figure Biles, 49, is planning a 20-year career here if current and future commissioners agree.

"I don't see myself retiring to the golf course and the house until, you know, 69 or 70 or longer,'' he said.

He commended Baker's leadership legacy — the people she put in key roles and the strategic plan developed by commissioners and administrators to set goals and measure the successes at achieving them.

"They've done a lot of innovative stuff that you generally don't see when you look at the majority of local governments out there,'' Biles said.

In other words, the county has set itself up for success, and that made Pasco County attractive to Biles.

Biles also has to pick some leaders of his own.

Two of the five assistant county administrators currently have "interim'' in their title. Strategic policy administrator Richard Gehring, the county's big picture guy, retires this summer, and Pasco again is searching for a tourism director after recently hired Doug Traub departed after just three months.

The biggest challenge ahead is handling growth, Biles said, particularly in an area that had an estimated 15,000 new residents move in during the past few years.

"How do you do that and accommodate them in our parks, in our libraries and in our other services?''

Indeed. It is a question that gets asked frequently, but rarely is answered adequately.

He is getting accustomed to the place. He mispronounced Lutz, rhyming it with "nuts" instead of "boots." No big deal, really. Gov. Rick Scott did the same thing during his fifth year in office.

Biles also is going to have to figure out what to do for fun, besides the impossible. He gave up golf, but he does own two kayaks. Camping, bicycling and hiking trips got pushed aside years ago because he and his wife, Mandy, spent more than a decade of weekends at soccer pitches, ball fields and track meets watching their four children compete. The youngest graduates high school next week and then will enroll at Auburn University.

So, Biles has to decide how to fill his spare time. If he has any. He spent his initial weekends at brush fires.

It's not the way he imagined getting to know the Starkey Wilderness Park.

Bowen: Pasco administrator sets out to do the impossible — for fun 05/17/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 17, 2017 6:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Boater missing in waters north of Bradenton, dog found alive

    Public Safety

    CORTEZ — The Coast Guard and others are scouring the waters near Mead Point, just inland from Anna Maria Island, for a 63-year-old boater who has been missing since Friday evening.

    Cortez native Fraser Horne, 63, has been missing in the waters north of Bradenton since Friday.
  2. Bucs-Dolphins: Things to watch in Sunday's 1 p.m. game

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Can the Bucs pull off back-to-back wins with a backup quarterback? Win a game on the road for the first time this season? Politely hand the unnamed trophy for the state's worst football team back to the Dolphins?

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws an interception during the second half of an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  3. Bucs' belief in Jameis Winston has been shaken

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Belief is the biggest attribute a quarterback can bring to his team. Belief in his talent. Belief in his commitment to winning. Belief in his ability to bring everyone together and have his voice lead the path forward.

    In this Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017, file photo, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston stands on the sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz. Winston is being investigated for allegedly groping a female Uber driver in 2016. The Buccaneers quarterback has denied the charge on his Twitter and Instagram accounts.  (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)
  4. Gerald McCoy or Ndamukong Suh: Who would you rather have?

    Bucs

    In the crowd-pleasing sports-talk of game of "Who Would You Rather Have?'' there might not be a more perfect match-up than this.

    Gerald McCoy vs. Ndamukong Suh.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (93) takes a moment before the first defensive series of the first quarter of the game between the New York Giants and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017.
  5. AC/DC founding member Malcolm Young dead at 64

    Obituaries

    NEW YORK (AP) — Malcolm Young, the rhythm guitarist and guiding force behind the Australian hard rock band AC/DC, has died. He was 64.

    FILE -  A March 3, 2003 file photo of AC/DC co-founder and guitarist Malcolm Young at an event in London. The band has announced, Saturday Nov. 18, 2017,  that 64-year-old Young has died. (Yui Mok/PA via AP)