Municipal business in Dade City is proceeding as usual, even as it continues its search for its next city manager.
Dade City finance director Leslie Porter, who’s serving the role of interim city manager, outlined several priority projects for the near term, ranging from personnel issues to facility upgrades to transportation updates, during a Feb. 26 regular commission meeting.
Porter said the city’s human resources department has begun reviewing personnel rules with city staff — looking to update any policies that may need to be tweaked and introduce any new ones that don’t currently exist.
Porter added the department is working to standardize employee evaluations to ensure each city employee has an annual review “so they know where they stand, what they’re doing right and what they can strive to do better.”
Developing a retail strategy is another ongoing priority during the city manager vacancy, Porter said.
The city is currently seeking professional firms for the creation of a retail market analysis and development plan, to help understand the retail landscape in the city’s market and broker potential business prospects.
Request for proposals for that project are due March 7.
From there, Porter said city administration will organize a special workshop or presentation, depending on the number of responses.
“We’ll see how many we have and come up with a game plan,” Porter said.
Porter said amending the city’s water rate ordinance is another objective — with plans to schedule a workshop in early April.
The interim city manager told commissioners she’s had preliminary discussions on water rates with City Attorney Nancy Stuparich and found “there are multiple areas that we feel need to be addressed.”
In 2017, commissioners approved a 2 percent water rate increase and 6.5 percent sewer rate increase each year over the next five years. It marked the first time those rates were raised in eight years.
Porter also noted city staff members are consulting with the Florida Department of Transportation to gain approval to install entrance signs at the city’s north and south apex. They also are working with the state transportation department on various other road projects within city limits.
Meanwhile, the interim city manager received direction from commissioners on a handful of other projects.
Commissioners appeared to be particularly interested in improving the restrooms and concession stand at Mickens Fields.
They directed Porter to obtain cost estimates on renovating or rebuilding those facilities and to bring that issue up as an agenda item within the next few meetings.
That particular fix-up project has come to the forefront of late with the Dade City Youth League’s Mickens Wildcats planning to use the football field this year.
The fields are located at 14318 Canal St.
“We owe it to that community to have (upgrades) out there, whether it’s for that group or for somebody else,” Mayor Camille Hernandez said.
“(Even) if the Wildcats aren’t coming, those bathrooms and that concession stand are in need of desperate repair and rehab, so either way we need to do it.”
Commissioner Scott Black concurred: “If we want that to be a viable ball field well into the future, we need to have those facilities there.”
The city previously obtained quotes on the Mickens Field repairs about a year-and-a-half ago, but no action was taken at the time, Porter said.
Elsewhere, commissioners advised Porter to gather real estate appraisals on the former police department building on Pasco Avenue, which has sat vacant since 2015.
Some possible options include selling the property, or demolishing the building and selling the lot.
The mayor called the vacant building an “eyesore” to the community.
“We want to put our best foot forward and that’s not our best foot forward over there,” Hernandez said. “Keeping status quo over there just like that and doing nothing is not an option.”
Also during the meeting, Hernandez thanked Porter for “keeping the ship sailing” by stepping into the interim city manager role.
Longtime Dade City manager Billy Poe left his post on Feb. 7, taking a similar position with the City of Zephyrhills. He announced his exit from Dade City in November.
The commission named Poe’s replacement in January, but were unable to come to a contract agreement last month.
“I know there’s lots to do on the project side as well as the personnel side, so I appreciate (Porter’s) willingness to do that, to keep us moving forward at this time,” the mayor said.
Applications for the new city manager will be accepted through March 15 at 5 p.m.
Published March 06, 2019