ZEPHYRHILLS — With the mayor threatening a veto and one member changing his mind, the city council narrowly reversed a previous vote Monday to give the city manager the same salary adjustment other employees are receiving in new budget.
The adjustment, along with an across-the-board 3 percent raise, would have hiked City Manager Jim Drumm's salary roughly 9 percent, from $94,325 to $106,030.
Mayor Danny Burgess started discussion on the final budget vote stating that since the council's last meeting Sept. 16, he has received "strong and overwhelming" negative feedback from residents and employees regarding the city manager's salary and his retooling of a department head position.
"I'm asking the council to pass the budget without these two measures," said Burgess, adding he was prepared to use his veto power if the council left the items in place.
Council member Charlie Proctor, who voted for the adjustment Sept. 16 with fellow members Kent Compton and Jodi Wilkeson, said he, too, has heard from dozens of people who are against the actions.
"I have to listen to the people; that's what I'm put up here to do," said Proctor, indicating he would join Lance Smith and Ken Burgess in opposing the salary adjustment.
The council commissioned a market salary study earlier in the year to see how Zephyrhills city employee pay rates compare to other Florida cities similar in size. The study recommended pay adjustments of up to 18.9 percent; the council agreed during summer budget workshops to implement half the suggested amount, leaving the city manager's position out of consideration until recently. Drumm's salary is second from the bottom of the 20 cities surveyed for the study, with the Panhandle city of Callaway the lowest at $90,000 and the city of Stuart highest at $155,000.
Smith and Burgess were against including Drumm's position in the salary adjustment because he has a contract that's up for negotiations in May; that is the time for any increases, they said, with the exception of the 3 percent raise the council voted to give all employees.
Wilkeson and Compton said Drumm should be treated the same as other senior managers, as his contract states. Compton previously pointed out that when the council adjusted salaries in 2006, the city manager position was included. Wilkeson also noted the council gave Drumm high marks in his recent evaluation.
A 3-2 vote reversed the earlier decision to apply the salary adjustment to the city manager's post.
The other sticking point was a department head position that Drumm planned to retool from Director of Administrative Services to Management Services Director, with a part-time position to help handle human resource duties. The council approved the budget unanimously after agreeing to leave the position as it currently stands.
The council also gave unanimous approval to keeping the tax rate at the current $6.14 for every $1,000 worth of property value.