PLANT CITY – Interim City Manager David Sollenberger has budgeted the first raises that many city employees have received in five years.
Sollenberger is recommending 5 percent pay raises for the base salaries of the more than 400 city employees. For the last five years, only public safety employees on the step plan saw their salaries increase.
“The employees are getting squeezed,” said Sollenberger, who unveiled his 2014-15 budget last week.
The city has been holding the line on salaries due to the economic downturn, although the workers have received bonuses. It’s now time to raise base salaries again, Sollenberger said.
The city has fallen behind the salaries paid by other employers, and it’s losing good employees who can go elsewhere to do the same work for more money, he said.
That’s not the only good news for city employees in Sollenberger’s proposal. He’s also planning to reduce city employee health premiums by 9 percent, saving employees $50 to $100 per month. He said he achieved the savings by switching to a different insurance plan with lower rates.
Other highlights of the budget include:
• Holding the line on the city property tax rate at $4.17 for each $1,000 of taxable, assessed value. Garbage rates would also remain the same.
• Adding three positions to Plant City Fire Rescue. The department can drastically reduce the amount of overtime it’s paying with the extra help, he said.
• Deactivating the city’s Wi-Fi system that covers downtown. The system is 10 years old and in need of repair. A private company has offered to take over the service at no charge to the city.
• Redesigning the city’s website to make it easier to use at a cost of $18,500.
City commissioners will discuss the proposed budget for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1 at workshops this summer.