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Dade City commissioners considering pay raises

DADE CITY — Just a little more than a month into the new fiscal year, city commissioners are taking a look at boosting their monthly pay from $100 to $300.

With a 3-2 vote Tuesday evening, the commission directed City Attorney Karla Owens to draft an ordinance would create the new salaries. Commissioner Eunice Penix proposed the idea, which was supported by Mayor Camille Hernandez and Commissioner Jim Shive. Commissioners Scott Black and William Dennis voted against the idea.

Once the proposed ordinance is ready, commissioners would vote on accepting and advertising it. Then a public hearing and a second vote would follow.

The commission has not had a raise in at least two decades, said City Clerk Jim Class. For many years, city commissioners could not get a raise without voters approving a ballot measure. Then in 2007, a charter amendment gave commissioners the power to adjust their own pay.

Dade City lags behind some Pasco cities in how much it pays its elected officials. The mayor and City Council members in Zephyrhills, for example, earn $6,000 a year, or $500 a month.

Still, the talk of raises comes just months after city commissioners had debated some drastic budget-cutting ideas. Earlier this year, Hernandez had suggested laying off eight part-time police dispatchers and charging a fee to festival organizers to help cover some of the city's costs for such events. Her colleagues bristled at both suggestions, and neither idea went anywhere. When commissioners approved the final budget in September, Hernandez said she was disappointed it didn't include more belt-tightening.