Zephyrhills employees could get 2 percent raises under proposed budget
The tax rate won't be increasing in Zephyrhills but salaries for city employees will under a budget proposed during a special meeting held this week. Though property values are still declining, according to city manager Jim Drumm, a large number of annexations over the past several months has more than made up for a shortfall in property taxes. City leaders are projecting a $12,000 increase in revenue from property taxes compared to last year. That will help fund a proposed 2 percent raise for non-probationary employees and a 1 percent raise that probationary employees would receive at the end of their probation period.The raises will go into effect on the first full pay period of the 2013-14 budget. The new budget also contains provisions to cut four full-time positions and create three new positions. The positions that would be cut are currently vacant. One is a floating/back-up position in the sanitation department for which reorganization in the department has covered. Another is the public works superintendent, which was assigned responsibilities overlapping with the public works director. The third and fourth positions were that of administrative services director and customer service supervisor, the responsibilities of which will be absorbed by the new positions. The city proposes to add a staff accountant in the finance department and a human resources technician that will absorb most of the duties of the administrative services director and customer service supervisor. An assistant to the city manager position would also be created under the proposed budget. The assistant to he city manager will assume any remaining duties of the administrative services director and customer service supervisor and, Drumm wrote in a letter to the council, "serve to quickly respond to customer concerns, provide administrative support to the city manager and department directors and would be assigned specific projects and programs." Also under the proposed budget, support of non-profit community organizations, the Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Zephyrhills, Inc. and the YMCA will continue. The budget will once again contain $50,000 for the Chamber of Commerce for economic development activities and $50,000 to support Main Street Zephyrhills in exchange for grant administration services. Zephyrhills City Council members set a millage rate of 6.1415 during the special meeting. The city council will review the budget over the month of August and part of September until public hearings are held for approval of the finalized budget but cannot raise the millage rate without facing penalties. The first reading will be held on Sept. 16 at 6 p.m. and a second and final reading will be held Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. Since the budget hearings will occur on Mondays in between normally scheduled city council meetings, council members moved the regular council meetings to coincide with the days scheduled to approve the budget. The change applies to September's meetings only.