ZEPHYRHILLS — The City Council on Monday night approved more than $400,000 in wastewater treatment plant repairs and discussed renovations to the damaged fire station.
Utilities director David Henderson asked the council to approve changes to the wastewater treatment plant, using funds from a current loan that includes repairs for unforeseen circumstances.
Council member Jodi Wilkeson voiced reservations about the additional funding, on the grounds that some of the improvements, like replacing rusted doors and windows, were not unforeseen. Wilkeson wondered whether it would be better to find other funding for the projects.
Henderson explained the city would be saving money by putting the additional repairs under the low rate of the current loan, which has a 2.12 percent interest rate. The City Council approved funding the repairs with the current loan.
Questions over the renovations to fix flood damage to Fire Station 2 downtown were brought up once more as the council reviewed information stating it would be cheaper to expand upon Fire Station 1.
Debate was heated as Wilkeson said a downtown fire station was a priority. She also said funds saved in the front end of the expansion would probably be spent at the back end.
Council president Luis Lopez agreed the effects on insurance and future expansion make the renovations to Station 2 more desirable.
Council members Clyde Bracknell and Manny Funes both supported expansion of Station 1, while council member Kenneth Compton said he would like to hear more points of view and see more information before making a decision. A better cost estimate and a forecast on its affect will be presented at the City Council meeting on March 9. The council hopes to vote on final plans at the next meeting.
In other business, city officials discussed the obstacles to receiving federal stimulus money for local road projects.
Mayor Cliff McDuffie said the city presented a number of road improvement projects in a recent attempt to receive federal funding from the economic stimulus package.
"None of those in Zephyrhills have been included for that, simply because any items included had to be ready in 75 days," McDuffie said.
City Manager Steve Spina said one problem the city faced was the prohibitive cost of speeding a road project through the funding process.
Finally, the council voted to approve the Interlocal Agreement for Joint Planning Area for Annexation, which will streamline the process for Zephyrhills to annex land from the county.
The proposal increased the land in the joint planning area to 13,426 acres from 10,774 acres.