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Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017
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Zephyrhills officials clash, give provisional approval to city’s budget

ZEPHYRHILLS — The Zephyrhills City Council gave tentative approval to a $58 million budget that includes $4 million in federal grants to refurbish a Zephyrhills Municipal Airport runway.

The budget was approved on a 3-2 vote with council members Jodi Wilkeson, Kent Compton and Charlie Proctor voting in favor of approval; Council President Lance Smith and Kenneth Burgess cast the dissenting votes.

City employees will receive a 3 percent across-the-board raise in the new budget.

Council members approved a millage rate of 6.1415 for the 2013-2014 budget, the same rate as last year. The millage rate will bring in less money per property since property values have dropped, but the city will receive taxes from new annexed properties.

Council members disagreed on the issue of City Manager Jim Drumm’s raise. Under the new budget, the city manager’s salary would be raised about $12,000, bringing it to about $106,000 a year.

A recent salary survey showed that the city manager’s salary was about $27,000 below the market average in Florida. Drumm’s salary increase includes the 3 percent employee raise and a “market share” raise based on the salary survey.

Wilkeson, Compton and Proctor favored giving him the pay raise.

Smith and Burgess said they did not oppose a 3 percent increase for Drumm, but were not in favor of a larger increase. They said Drumm signed a contract for the salary he is paid and should not receive the additional salary.

“The numbers kind of speak for themselves,” Compton said. “It is apparent to me that the city manager is underpaid; (former City Manager) Mr. (Steve) Spina was underpaid, Mr. Drumm is underpaid. He is still underpaid. I see no reason not to treat him as we have treated other employees.”

Burgess said that employees don’t get to negotiate for salaries as the city manager does. “It’s not that I think that you are not deserving,” he told Drumm. “I’m saying it is a negotiated contract.”

Wilkeson said that more of her constituents opposed a raise, but that she would support it. “Sometimes I have to vote with what I think is right rather than what everyone agrees with,” she said.

Smith said he did not agree with the large salary increase. “I’m not the one who signed a contract and said that I’d work for an amount for so many years,” he said.

Smith and Burgess also opposed adding a new position of management services director. The position is part of the new budget.

The position was originally titled “assistant to the city manager,” but was changed because Drumm said it was not really an assistant position but a human resources position.

Both Smith and Burgess said that they read the job descriptions and that it read like a city manager’s assistant.

Burgess said that the new position was adding another layer between the administration and employees.

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