Dade City Mayor Camille Hernandez is bullish on the future of the community she governs.
During a recent Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting, Hernandez told the audience about newly proposed planned residential developments, to projects aimed at improving the city’s infrastructure and recreational projects,
“I am enthusiastic about Dade City,” Hernandez said, addressing the chamber audience at Florida Hospital Dade City.
“We’re finally at the point where we can put our emphasis on what I call some sexy things —
some things you can actually see (and) some things that will attract businesses and really make it worth their while to come in and call Dade City home.”
Hernandez has been Dade City’s mayor since 2012 and was reelected in April.
One of the city’s chief priorities is to address its lingering stormwater problems, she said.
Bids will go out next month — and work will begin in February — for the city’s downtown stormwater management system, to alleviate flooding that’s plagued Pasco Avenue and Seventh Street.
Over the past two years, the city has received a total of $1.8 million in state appropriations to use for the stormwater project.
That work, Hernandez said, “is so important for all of our folks working in the government offices, and all our retailers and businesses that we’re trying to attract in town.”
Another ongoing stormwater project is the Beauchamp Pond Expansion, whereby the city is combining two ponds located at the southeast and northeast corners of 17th Street and Beauchamp Avenue, which aims to address chronic flooding in that particular area.
Plans call for the area near the pond site to ultimately become a passive park that would include a boardwalk, trail and landscaping.
Hernandez also mentioned that several residential developments and subdivisions have been proposed within city limits — marking another progression for Dade City’s long-term future.
Two of those developments — Abbey Glenn 2 and Suwanee Lakeside — total more than 400 homes and will be located across the street from Pasco High School.
About 700 more dwelling units are planned in several other developments, the mayor said.
“That’s really going to have an impact,” she said.
Impacts from those projects include an expanded tax base, additional city services and more traffic coming to downtown Dade City.
Hernandez also noted that Dade City is starting to gain a positive reputation for its eclectic mix of farm-to-table restaurants.
And, she noted that city officials will continue to promote and market its various food initiatives and agricultural lands “to draw folks to Dade City.”
“I think we finally are learning kind of what our niche is and where we want to go,” Hernandez said.
Park and trail improvements were another talking point for the mayor.
Hernandez mainly discussed the northern extension of the existing Hardy Trail, from Church Avenue to Lock Street.
Work on that extension is expected to start in early 2019 and be completed by the end of that year, said Hernandez, noting that the project is benefiting from $1.1 million in state funding.
The trail is part of a larger trail network planned for the U.S. 301 corridor extending from south of Zephyrhills to north of Dade City. Ultimately, it will extend to the Withlacoochee State Trail trailhead.
“It fits right in with what we promote here in Dade City — quality of life, healthy lifestyles, health and wellness — so we’re very excited it’s finally a reality for us here,” the mayor said.
She also pointed to another initiative in the recreation arena: A bike-share hub to be built in Dade City. The Pasco County Tourist Development allocated $250,000 for that project.
However, the mayor noted that the city is still working to choose a location, which would encompass not only the bike hub, but a splash pad and pavilion, and other features that could be used to host festivals and other community events.
The mayor also noted there will continue to be “up to the year maintenance” on its local park system — namely, Price, Watson and Agnes Lamb parks.
Elsewhere, Hernandez touched on the city’s recently passed $16.4 million budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
Hernandez said the budget is about a 12 percent increase from the prior fiscal year’s budget of $14.6 million, due mainly in part to rising personnel costs and health care premiums. The millage rate of 7.14 mills remained the same as last fiscal year.
Highlights from the new city budget include 3 percent raises for all city employees, with an extra “Years of Service” salary bump for longtime city employees.
The city also raised its retirement contributions, ranging from 4 percent to 8 percent, for all employees.
“One of the things that we try to do is we want to take care of our employees,” Hernandez said.
“That was something we wanted to do and felt that was important to do for our employees.”
Published October 24, 2018