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Thursday, Sep 21, 2017
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New Port Richey plans to restore more than a dozen city jobs

NEW PORT RICHEY - After reducing city staff last fall to help balance the budget, the New Port Richey City Council restored more than a dozen jobs last week. The positions could be filled in early April, finance director Douglas Haag said. The changes could help the police department boost the number of officers on night patrols. An overlooked source of money will allow the city to pay up to $100,000 in salaries and wages midway through the current fiscal year, according to a memo from interim City Manager Susan Dillinger.
The estimated cost for a full year will be $261,875. City services have suffered since the cuts, Dillinger said. The city has been relying on overtime pay for remaining staff to fill the void. Without the staff additions, the city, at its recent pace, would burn through its overtime budget for the entire fiscal year by June, Dillinger said. The city's 2013 fiscal year ends Sept. 30. "The financial forecast appeared gloomy" when the city's budget was finalized in September, Dillinger wrote in the memo. "Since those dark days, more positive information has come forward," she wrote. A report the consulting firm Burton & Associates submitted recently suggests the city take money from its utilities fund to augment spending. The police department would gain two part-time traffic enforcement assistants to help review video footage from red-light cameras at U.S. 19 intersections. The civilian assistants would earn $12 an hour and work 20 hours a week. The assistants would free up police officers and detectives who now review all red-light camera cases. The officers would continue to help determine when tickets would be issued to motorists for flagrant violations. The officers then could return to patrol duty more often. Councilman Bob Langford said he would like to see the police department field at least four patrol officers on the night shift. In response, Police Chief James Steffens, who is leaving to take a job with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, said recent injuries had hampered the night-shift roster. Recruits will fill the night-duty void, he said.

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