By Eugenio Torrens
The Zephyrhills city council appointed members to an economic task force on its Oct. 10 meeting. The 11-person task force, nine members and two alternates, will convene at a later date — a schedule of meetings has not yet been discussed — to go over how to best recruit businesses and improve the Zephyrhills economy.
The committee will include a number of local business leaders, including members from the Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce and Main Street.
There were 13 applications for the 10 slots, including two alternate positions. Mayor Cliff McDuffie already had a seat as the chairman of the group. Zephyrhills residents could apply online or mail in an application.
Early on in the meeting, McDuffie proposed an emergency business item requesting the tag “resident” be lifted from the applicants, so that nonresidents could also pertain to the task force, because there weren’t enough Zephyrhills citizens who applied.
“We wanted the nine (members) primarily to be within the city, but that didn’t happen,” McDuffie said. “I’m comfortable with it.”
Even with the last-minute addition to the agenda, the council still agreed to the members of the task force.
The new members include: Mayor McDuffie, Regina Granger, John Scott, Matt Hulbert, Thomas Vanater, Manny Funes, Tim Linville, Randy Maggard, Skip Griffith. The alternate members are Skip Skairus and Randall Stovall.
“I’m glad to see the names that came through, the fact that the council was agreeable to allow non-residents to be a bigger part of it,” McDuffie said. “I wish that we had gotten more locals, because that’s what this is about — grow your own city.”
McDuffie added that there had been prior economic development committees set up in the last 15 years without anything really getting done.
“Maybe we can get something accomplished now,” McDuffie said.
While the task force has been, in effect, operational for almost a month — having the members named was the final hurdle before a calendar of meetings could be established. The task force won’t have any legislative power, but will be more of a brain trust to comprise a list of goals and objectives to develop the economy and recruit local businesses. Whatever the task force proposes may be brought to the city council for consideration.
“I think we’ve got a qualified group of individuals on there,” Councilman Lance Smith said. “I think we’ve got a good, well-rounded group of people in there. I’m looking forward to see what they have to bring forward to us.”
He said that while citizens should be given preference over non-residents in regards to the task force, that the goal was to compile the “best group available.”
He pointed out that because the task force is voluntary — no one on the task force earns a salary solely for being on that task force — and because it can take up time from work, that that whittles down the applicant pool.
The task force has a six-month life and will be dissolved on April 4, 2012, barring the need for an extension.
Another item of the agenda was the change of payment for the mayor and city council members. City Manager James Drumm said during the meeting that with the city’s budget adopted, it was possible to re-examine the payment for council members.
He stressed the salary would not change, but only that instead of being paid every six months, council members would be paid monthly as city employees versus outside vendors.
The council also approved a second reading that changed the future land use map designation for territory by the airport. The land, north of Chancey Road and along the airport, was recently annexed, but no concrete use for it has been determined. The motion that was approved changed the designation from county future land to city future land, public semi-public.
“It’s just a procedural thing more than anything else,” Smith said.
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