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Zephyrhills to consider increasing city's budget

Published April 23, 2007


ZEPHYRHILLS - The City Council tonight will discuss whether to increase its budget by $2-million, to $58.7-million, to help offset the slowed pace of building in the city and to pay for some unplanned raises for some employees.

The proposed midyear budget revision would use money pulled from a contingency account into an active account.

"It's kind of like reconciling your checkbook," said City Manager Steve Spina.

Building permit revenue and impact fees for new construction are down. The building boom of the past two years had budget planners overly optimistic, but no longer.

The revised budget, Spina said, is "a reflection of what's actually happening."

The money also would be used to offset a lost $95,000 grant for the fire department.

Despite an uncertain financial future, the council will also discuss raising annual salaries for some city employees, as well as a proposal to add an assistant city manager position, which would cost about $52,000 a year.

The proposed raises affect about 14 employees from the police, public works and utilities departments. The proposed raises and new position would cost the city about $70,000.

In other news, the City Council will decide whether to appoint Richard Kaeberlein to the board of adjustment, which decides land use ordinances. After losing to Danny Burgess in the recent City Council elections, Kaeberlein applied for board membership.

A Progress Energy representative is also scheduled to speak during tonight's meeting. The power company drew some complaints a few months ago when it began cutting down trees within the city and erecting 110-foot power poles in people's back yards. A similar situation occurred a few years ago in Tampa, and neighborhood residents sued Tampa Electric. Hillsborough County later passed an ordinance to require a public hearing and communication before similar work was done.

Following that lead, Zephyrhills passed a similar ordinance, and Progress Energy's appearance at the meeting is part of the new process.

The council will also hold a the third and final public hearing to amend the wording of a sign ordinance, which previously stated that City Council would decide sign appeals. Actually, the board of adjustment hears those appeals.

The council meeting begins at 6 p.m. today at City Hall, 5335 Eighth St.

[Last modified April 23, 2007, 00:52:22]

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