Chief Regnier leaving Sarasota County Fire Department to become assistant chief on Longboat Key

Dec. 27 to be Regnier’s last day with county

Sarasota County Fire Chief Michael Regnier. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Former Sarasota County Administrator Tom Harmer has lured another long-time county employee to the Town of Longboat Key, where Harmer has been town manager since early 2018.

The latest person planning to make the transition to a job on the barrier island is Fire Chief Michael Regnier, The Sarasota News Leader has learned.

Regnier, who has worked for the county for 33 years, will mark his final day on Dec. 27 and begin his new position on Dec. 28, county and town staff told the News Leader.

Regnier’s salary with the county Fire Department is $140,524.80, county Media Relations Officer Sara Nealeigh, who works with the Emergency Services Department staff, noted in response to a News Leader inquiry on Dec. 10. His starting salary on Longboat Key will be $95,000, the town’s Human Relations Department director, Lisa Silvertooth, told the News Leader.

With the Town of Longboat Key, Regnier will be a shift commander and assistant chief, Silvertooth, said during a Dec. 13 telephone interview.

Asked for a statement about his leaving county employment, Regnier provided the following on Dec. 10, via Nealeigh:

“After more than six years as Fire Chief of Sarasota County Fire Department and more than 33 years of fire service in Sarasota County, I am transitioning to a new role as an Assistant Chief for the Town of Longboat Key Fire Rescue. The opportunity will allow me to spend more time with my family while continuing to serve the community. I am grateful for the support of the Board of Sarasota County Commissioners, Sarasota County administration, Emergency Services and the fire department during my time with SCFD. I’m proud of all we have accomplished together and am grateful to have served alongside the department’s incredible group of firefighter/paramedics who serve our community daily.”

Additionally, Nealeigh wrote, Rich Collins, director of the county’s Emergency Services Department, offered these comments:

“Sarasota County thanks Chief Regnier and his family for the dedicated service they have provided to the community over the last 33 years and looks forward to working with him in his new capacity.

Sarasota County Emergency Services Director Rich Collins. Photo courtesy Sarasota County

“Sarasota County Fire Department’s more than 520 firefighter/paramedics across all levels of service and leadership continue to serve our community, providing the highest quality service 24-hours a day, seven days a week as we begin the search for a future fire chief for Sarasota County,” Collins added.

Regnier began his service with the Sarasota County Fire Department on Jan. 1, 1996, Nealeigh told the News Leader. His first day as chief was July 25, 2015, she wrote.

Regnier succeeded Chief Mike Tobias, who ended his 35-year career with the county in May 2014. He had been chief since August 2011.

Tobias also had served as director of the Emergency Services Department.

In May 2015, Regnier accepted the offer to become chief of the Fire Department, following approximately a year of service as interim chief.

In a May 27, 2015 email to the county commissioners, then-County Administrator Harmer wrote, “Mike was selected after a nationwide search to find the best candidate to lead the Fire Department and oversee the County’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services. Mike has 27 years of experience with the Department, has a [bachelor’s degree] in Fire Science from Columbia Southern University, is a State Certified Firefighter/Paramedic and has attained a number of state and national certifications related to Emergency Services. Mike has done a great job as the Interim Fire Chief over the past year and his leadership has been a stabilizing force during the recruitment and hiring of the Emergency Services Director [Collins] and now the filling of the Fire Chief vacancy.”

In a formal news release, which also was sent out on May 27, 2015, Harmer said, “We are excited to have someone of Chief Regnier’s vast experience and knowledge officially serving in this role. … Throughout his career he has been involved in the day-to-day operations of our fire department, both on the administrative side and in the field, and we expect a seamless transition from his interim role.”

Former County Administrator Tom Harmer. File photo

Early on after Harmer began his tenure as town manager on Longboat Key, county commissioners offered comments about his hiring away members of the county government staff.

During an April 2018 County Commission meeting, following the handling of an agenda item involving the town, then-Commissioner Paul Caragiulo jokingly told Harmer as Harmer was leaving, “Don’t grab anyone else on the way out.”

Even before Harmer started working on Longboat, County Engineer Isaac Brownman had decamped to the town, becoming the public works director there in the summer of 2017.

Then, in October 2017, Allen Parsons, who served as the county’s long-range planning manager, accepted the position of director of Longboat’s Planning, Zoning & Building Department.

Next, in March 2018, Tate Taylor, manager of the county’s Planning Services Division, joined the town’s staff as a planner with the Planning, Zoning & Building Department.

In July 2018, Carolyn Brown, who had worked for the county’s Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department for more than 30 years, serving as director since 2012, took a job as support services director for the town.