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Jim Drumm has held similar posts in High Springs and Lake Alfred. He starts Thursday.

The deal is done: Jim Drumm will succeed longtime City Manager Steve Spina.

He reports for duty Thursday.

After contract negotiations Monday, City Council president Jodi Wilkeson offered the job to the board's top pick. Drumm's three-year contract includes a $90,000 annual salary.

"I'd like to congratulate you. You are officially being offered the position," Wilkeson told him.

"Thank you very much," Drumm, standing at the lectern, said humbly. "I definitely accept."

Drumm, 48, says that the budget will be his biggest challenge. Zephyrhills faces a $800,000 to $1 million shortfall next year, not unlike many Florida cities facing financial constraints.

"It's right on us. The clock is ticking," he said.

Spina and the City Council are working on next year's budget, which goes into effect Oct. 1. Layoffs, service cuts, fees and other ideas are all on the table.

Spina, who is retiring after managing the city for 15 years, will stay on board, likely until June 15, showing Drumm the ropes, introducing him around town and bringing him up to speed on city issues.

The former High Springs city manager said he's grateful he'll get to learn from his predecessor. And he, like Spina, plans to have a drive-around approach to managing a city.

"I will probably be in the streets more here," Drumm said. "I'll probably just pull up to the playground, get out and talk to folks."

Contract negotiations began with the city offering an annual salary of $77,220, which is the standard 10 percent above the base of a range the city usually offers upper management. Anticipating that he would decline and not wanting to risk losing their first choice, council members agreed to increase the pay offer to $87,750. Drumm countered with $90,000, saying if there's an across-the-board pay cut for city staff, he wants to end up around the level he was at in High Springs. The City Council agreed.

Spina makes $94,420 annually.

Drumm also will be issued a city car and smart phone, and be given a $2,500 relocation package. He must move to the city within six months but he hopes to move sooner. He has a wife, Dawne, and 2-year-old son, Kiernan.

Drumm left his post in High Springs after the City Commission there voted to terminate him in September 2010, for what he cites as "philosophical differences." He resigned before the commission's final vote.

Before serving as city manager there, Drumm had his own management/planning consultant business. He also served as city manager in Lake Alfred, assistant city manager in Auburndale, as a management analyst for Hernando County and as a personnel specialist for the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

"See the big smile on my face?" Mayor Cliff McDuffie said Monday evening. "... We had a good process in hiring him and I think he's going to be a good city manager. We have a good man."