Linda Lovvorn Tucker becomes city administrator emeritus, departs Oct. 8
By Jennifer Tuohy – Island Eye News Contributing Editor
The City of Isle of Palms has appointed a new interim city administrator. Desiree Fragoso, assistant city administrator since 2015, assumes day to day management of the city on June 1. Linda Lovvorn Tucker, city administrator for 17 years, becomes city administrator emeritus, and will work from home on special projects until her official departure date of Oct. 8. The decision was made Tuesday, May 22 at the regular council meeting.
“Desirée will assume all the responsibilities of the city administrator, as outlined in the job description,” councilmember and Personnel Committee Chair Sandy Ferencz told Island Eye News. “She basically is in charge of all day to day operations as of now. As city administrator emeritus, Linda Tucker will work from home and be assigned special projects by city council. She will remain on the payroll through October 8, but she will not be in the office.” The city will pay Fragoso as interim city administrator and continue to pay Tucker her same compensation package.
“A lot of people are worried about change – but I think what’s happening now is the best thing for this city.” Linda Lovvorn Tucker
“If I were here at city hall, it might be natural for the transition to be slowed down as it would be natural for people to turn to me,” Tucker told Island Eye News. “This way the city will still have the benefit of my knowledge and the benefit of my work, but the day to day person will be Desirée. It’s a way to transition and I think a lot of good things can happen this way… and I get a whole new work wardrobe too, I get to be a whole lot more casual!”
Tucker says she will continue to work on the city’s major drainage project, as well as facilitating ongoing discussions with Isle of Palms Water and Sewer Commission, and the managed beach parking changes. Also, “While we’ve finished the major beach renourishment, there’s still activities related to the monitoring of the project and things of that nature,” she said. “Then of course I’ll have plenty of time to be out in the field and notice other things that need to be fixed, that being tethered to the office has limited my ability to do.”
Fragoso said she will continue her current role while moving into taking over projects she has been working on with Tucker, as well as starting to tackle the newly adopted FY19 budget. “It’s a very aggressive year we have a lot going on,” she said. “I will continue to manage the day to day operations and work on this new budget.”
According to Tucker, this transition plan has been worked on collaboratively with council, Fragoso, the city’s labor attorney and Tucker and her own attorney over the two months since she submitted her resignation.
Tucker said her decision to leave was based on multiple factors, but that she is not retiring, yet.
“Whether or not I decide to retire is a decision I will make at a later time,” she said. “I really, really enjoy my work and I’m hoping to continue it in some way at some level after the October date. I’ve been doing this for 35 years and would like to still let communities and local government be the benefit of that cumulative knowledge.”
“Desirée’s a very capable young woman and is very well respected by the staff,” Sandy Ferencz
Asked if the recent changes in IOP government prompted her decision she said,
“There has been a lot of change for the city and I’m excited for the city for the change. A lot of people are worried about change – but I think what’s happening now is the best thing for this city.”
Asked why the decision was made to remove Tucker from her position four months early, Ferencz cited the need for city staff “to move forward and get used to the fact that Ms. Tucker is not going to be the city administrator as of October 8,” and, “To give the interim city administrator the opportunity to show us what’s she’s capable of during the high season; after September 15 the city is a very different city,” Ferencz said.
Ferencz said Fragoso is fully qualified to lead the city during this interim period, which will last until the position is filled permanently. She possesses a master’s degree in public administration as well as two years’ experience working under Tucker. “She’s a very capable young woman and is very well respected by the staff,” Ferencz said
“I feel really good about Desirée being here,” said Tucker. “I’m really confident in her work ethic, her practices and her knowledge about the city that I’ve worked hard to impart. I have a lot of peace of mind about this.”
The city will hire a search firm to find a permanent administrator, as well as a new police chief and a newly created position in Public Works – assistant facilities and maintenance director.
“We have budgeted $75,000 for the search, including the fee for the search firm and other extraneous expenses such as flying people in and other things,” Ferencz said.
While Fragoso is interim city administrator her duties will be distributed among current staff, Ferencz said.
“We have five department managers that know I’m going to rely on them a lot, during this interim period,” said Fragoso.