Tuesday, June 19, 2018
News Roundup

Changes coming to Pasco's tourism website

DADE CITY — Pasco commissioners Tuesday approved plans to reimburse tourism staffers for job-related expenses and to upgrade the county's tourism website.

The aim of the change is to make the site easier to navigate for smartphone users, a growing segment of site visitors. Hits from handheld devices have jumped 330 percent over the past year.

"The idea is to make it more user-friendly on a smartphone, a tablet or an iPad, and right now it's not very navigable," said Ed Caum, interim public communications manager.

The site's name, www.visitpasco.net, will stay the same and its content won't change much, with an emphasis on sports, eco-tourism and other tourism mainstays such as the Bug Jam.

Commissioners voted 4-0 to pay $25,000 to hire web designer Digital Lightbridge, which has offices in Tampa and New Port Richey. Commissioner Jack Mariano was absent.

The change comes as tourism officials are pushing for more event- and sports-related bookings. Nineteen events, from lacrosse to mud runs, are set next year, up from a handful of such events five years ago.

The Florida Sports Foundation, which helps counties market sports, visited Pasco a few years ago and suggested officials reach out to sports groups as a way to enhance their tourism taxes and help retailers and hotels.

The effort worked and now officials are seeking a sports-marketing specialist to coordinate activities and lure more tournaments.

They also requested a reimbursement policy to cover an escalating amount of job-related expenses, and got it.

While most expenses are comped, Caum said he recently paid $50 for meals while escorting travel writers along the coast. In March, county administrator Michele Baker paid $50 for fuel to take some German officials on a boat tour.

Chipping in for snacks, water and the occasional meal come with the job, but with the increased marketing officials' out-of-pocket costs are adding up, Caum said.

"We're in the hospitality business so people tend to expect this," he said.

Until Tuesday, the county didn't have a policy to reimburse those expenses.

Over the past few months, staffers perused policies from Alachua, Broward, Citrus, Collier, Gadsden, Leon and Hernando to create their own expense policy.

County commissioners approved the new policy 4-0, which reimburses travel-related expenses approved by the county administrator and county commissioners. Expense reports must include receipts. Commission Chairman Ted Schrader said the board would consider only fair and reasonable expenses. Travel budgets would be approved ahead of time.

In other business, commissioners gave 3 percent raises to Baker and County Attorney Jeffrey Steinsnyder after approving similar raises to most other county employees last month.

Steinsnyder will see his salary go to $169,950. Baker, hired under a two-year contract in July, will see her pay increase to $175,100 a year.

Baker also receives a $450 monthly car allowance and is eligible for a $10,000 raise at the end of a year if she receives a favorable evaluation.

Her predecessor, John Gallagher, received the same car allowance and earned $180,000 a year.

Rich Shopes can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6236.

Comments
St. Petersburg power outage affects thousands

St. Petersburg power outage affects thousands

More than 2,000 Duke Energy customers are without power after a cluster of storms rolled through earlier this afternoon, according to Duke Energy.The area without power stretches along 62nd Avenue N from 12th Street N to 30th Way N, according to the ...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
Ice cream man granted bail after lawyer notes weaknesses in 2010 Ruskin murder case

Ice cream man granted bail after lawyer notes weaknesses in 2010 Ruskin murder case

TAMPA — Michael Edward Keetley has spent the last 2,756 days in the Falkenburg Road Jail awaiting trial — and a possible death sentence if convicted — for a Ruskin shooting spree that killed two men.Now he might go home.A judge this week approved Kee...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Norris Trophy could be good consolation for Lightning’s Victor Hedman

Norris Trophy could be good consolation for Lightning’s Victor Hedman

Victor Hedman is talking from a hotel room in Las Vegas and admits he's a little jet-lagged."Actually, very jet-lagged," Hedman says.That's what happens when you take a flight from Sweden to the party capital of the world.But he knows exactly what he...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Police release video of car that killed woman, 58, in Tampa hit and run

Police release video of car that killed woman, 58, in Tampa hit and run

Times staffTAMPA — Police have identified Sally Ann McClellan Webb, 58, as the pedestrian killed when a vehicle ran into her Sunday night as she was crossing N Nebraska Ave at Linebaugh Ave.The collision occurred about 9:15 a.m. as the victim stepped...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Trump threatens more China tariffs

Trump threatens more China tariffs

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has directed the U.S. Trade Representative to prepare new tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports as the two nations move closer to a trade war.In response, China threatened what it called "comprehensive measure...
Updated: 1 hour ago
For starters: Rays at Astros, with Kiermaier back and an ace-high matchup

For starters: Rays at Astros, with Kiermaier back and an ace-high matchup

UPDATE, 4:49: Kiermaier is batting leadoff and playing center as expected, while Willy Adames is on the bench so Adeiny Hechavarria can play short in potentially a showcase for teams the Rays may hope to interest in a trade.Here is the Rays lineup:Ki...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tech Data sending a record 700 employees to march in Pride Parade

Tech Data sending a record 700 employees to march in Pride Parade

Among the marching bands and twirlers at Saturday’s St. Pete Pride Parade, one major sponsor, Tech Data, is sending by far a record number of employees — more than 700 at last count — to march in Florida’s largest gay pride parade.The parade, which d...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Port Richey council moves closer to minimum housing standards ordinance

PORT RICHEY — In a narrow vote, Port Richey took another step toward enacting an ordinance that will create minimum housing standards in the city. Port Richey City Council members approved in a split vote last week the first reading of an ordinance d...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Big Ten reaps recruiting bounty in Tampa Bay

Big Ten reaps recruiting bounty in Tampa Bay

Largo High defensive back Solomon Brown had plenty of college options with offers from 20 Division I-A schools. Still, the three-star recruit did not need to go through a prolonged process to figure out where he wanted to go.Two weeks ago, Brown comm...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Updated: 2 hours ago