ZEPHYRHILLS — The City Council unanimously approved an updated annual budget Monday, increasing spending by more than $4.5 million. More than half of that is for the Utility Department's contingency fund, which City Manager Steve Spina described as an "estimate (which) was off at the end of the year."
Other expenses include purchase of equipment for Zephyr Park, more than $300,000 for property for the Community Redevelopment Area, and a planned water/sewer rate study by the Utility Department.
At Monday's meeting, Spina described the city as being in "pretty good shape … better than (when) we started off." He said that while the numbers aren't firm yet, he expects a 7 percent drop from city property taxes. He added this is the smallest drop in the county.
In other news
• The council voted to reopen the bidding process for new landscaping on U.S. 301. All three original bidders were rejected for failing to meet certification requirements or the minimal plans for the road. The state Department of Transportation's deadline for the project's completion is at the end of May.
• The city rewrote its open container ordinance for alcohol consumption. Other than at special events such as parades or street fairs, the city will not allow an open alcohol container in public or semi-public spaces. This includes parking lots and sidewalks. City Attorney Joseph A. Poblick conceded the language was broad, but pointed out that previous ordinances covered only Zephyr Park and City Hall.