City COMMISSION picks SPArkman as new mayor
PLANT CITY — The City Commission chose longtime City Commissioner Michael Sparkman to replace outgoing Mayor Dan Raulerson, who stepped down this week to focus on his state House campaign.
"It's been a lot of fun," said Raulerson, 54. "It was gratifying from the standpoint of getting to meet a lot of people . . . and speaking at various functions representing Plant City. "
Raulerson has held the mayor's job for two years.
The position is not an elected one, but is chosen yearly by commissioners. Raulerson will remain a commissioner through November.
Sparkman has served on the commission for 20 years — seven of those as mayor. Commissioner Mary Yvette Thomas Mathis, who won re-election in April, was appointed vice mayor.
Fourth of July fireworks return
The July 4 fireworks show is back after a four-year hiatus.
The longtime festival was canned in 2008 after sponsor Bill Heard Chevrolet went out of business.
Now the chamber of commerce and Florida Strawberry Festival have stepped up to split the cost.
The show will be held at Plant City Stadium, 1810 E Park Road. Parking will be available at 5:45 p.m. with the fireworks set to go off at 9, weather permitting.
When Bill Heard paid the tab in 2007, the show cost $32,000. This year's event is expected to cost $20,000.
City may suspend fee on developers
Like other Florida cities, Plant City is looking to lure new companies by cutting the fees they pay.
City Manager Gregory Horwedel is proposing to suspend the mobility fee on commercial and residential development from July 1 to Sept. 30, 2013. Mobility fees offset the infrastructure costs caused by development.
Horwedel said he hopes the move will draw businesses to the city, resulting in a broader tax base and more jobs. Since Oct. 1, the start of the fiscal year, Plant City has taken in $90,000 in mobility fees, Finance Director Martin Wisgerhof said.
A hearing and vote are set for June 25 at City Hall.
Rich Shopes, Times Staff Writer