DADE CITY — As a potential cost-saving measure, City Commissioner Steve Van Gorden is floating the idea of turning Karla Owens' job as city attorney and community development director into a part-time position.
"I explained to Karla it's nothing against her," Van Gorden said before the Tuesday evening commission meeting. "But I feel in a tight budget we need to look at all our options."
Owens started working for the city as a part-time attorney in July 2003, but became full time a few months later when she also took on the role of community development director. Planning, land use and zoning issues were her legal expertise.
The development position is overseen by the city manager, not the commission.
Owens earns $80,000 annually, including a $25,000 flat fee for her role as part-time attorney.
Neighboring Zephyrhills, whose 2008-09 budget was more than triple Dade City's, pays $40,000 annually for part-time legal services. The city also pays its full-time planner — its equivalent of a community development director — $67,000.
Before Tuesday's meeting, Owens said her dual roles offer the city a benefit. She brings her legal expertise to planning and zoning decisions.
"I've been an attorney so long, it's hard for me to not think of everything I do from a legal standpoint," she said.
It was not clear Tuesday if Van Gorden's idea would be considered by the commission, or if any other officials shared his view.
City commissioners have turned in their evaluations of Owens, City Manager Billy Poe and Clerk Jim Class — the three officials they oversee.
The reviews were not available Tuesday. Mayor Scott Black said he had not yet compiled them.
The commission will hold a special meeting at 4:30 p.m. next Tuesday to discuss the evaluations as a group.
Helen Anne Travis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 435-7312.