The City of Dade City is set to ring in fiscal year 2021-2022 with a slew of new positions and increased employee wages.
The updated employee pay plan incorporates the greater of the following: 3% cost of living, new minimum pay rate and new minimum pay adjusted for years of service (1.5% per year of service greater than one year) in an attempt to help with wage compression issues.
The pay plan has 19 salary steps, ranging from part-time crossing guard, which has a salary range of $23,400 to $35,100, all the way up to police chief, which has a range of $80,931.06 to $121,396.59.
The pay plan also includes funding for 14 new positions, within the proposed budget, including the following:
- Four police officers
- A deputy city clerk
- An executive assistant to the city manager/public relations specialist
- A groundskeeper
- A utility service worker
- An engineering inspector
- A utilities electrician
- An assistant code enforcement officer
- Three wastewater treatment plant operator trainees
Other notable changes include bumping up paygrade levels for the city’s utility billing supervisor to be commensurate with other assistant crew leaders; upping the executive assistant to the city’s police chief to the same grade as executive assistant to the city manager/public relations specialist; and, adding paygrade classification levels for fiscal assistants based on experience and duties.
The new plan will increase personnel costs, and benefits, by an estimated $626,446 compared to the current year’s budget, according to Dade City Manager Leslie Porter.
Dade City Commissioners approved the pay scale plan on a 5-0 vote during the commission’s Sept. 13 meeting. The plan is effective Oct. 1.
Porter had outlined the city’s need to add staff and to budget additional money for payroll during a commission workshop last month.
She explained that more employees are needed to help manage the rapid growth and development planned throughout the municipality.
About 6,500 new rooftops and several commercial properties have been approved to be built over the next two decades.
Porter and Human Resources Director Patty Coram conducted an in-house salary study using pay information from seven comparable local governments, including Zephyrhills, New Port Richey and Pasco County.
The pay plan will make the city more competitive when it comes to attracting applicants, hiring candidates and retaining quality personnel, officials say.
Moreover, officials say beginning to raise wages now will make for an easier transition to Florida’s $15 per hour mandatory minimum wage, which takes effect in 2026.
Mayor Camille Hernandez voiced support for the justification of the comprehensive pay plan. She said it rewards long-term employees and will attract more qualified job-seekers, to ensure the municipality is fully and adequately staffed across all departments.
“I do hope and pray with these new positions that we are adding, that we’re stepping it up a notch,” Hernandez said, addressing her comments to the city manager. “You’ve asked for things, we’re giving it.”
The mayor also emphasized that expectations are high for city administration and supervisors on down to entry-level employees.
“As we raise the bar and we provide this system, we expect certain things. The expectations are pretty high now,” Hernandez said.
Commissioner Normita Woodard agreed that with more resources in place, there’s a greater responsibility and scrutiny in terms of serving residents and following through on outlined citywide goals and initiatives.
Woodard put it like this: “I just want to make sure that I do say it in this forum that the money matches the work efforts, and that the supervisors are going to be doing what they need to do to make sure that it is accountable.”
The city’s last classification and compensation study was conducted in 2015, according to a city commission agenda memo.
The city adopted a proposed pay plan then, but was not in a financial position at that time to address compression issues included in that plan, the memo states.
In lieu of that, the city had been providing 3% salary increases each year, in an attempt to keep up with cost of living and rising wage environment, the memo reads.
In other business, commissioners approved the Rolling Hills residential planning development annexation, comprehensive plan and zoning amendment, on a 3-2 vote.
The development is approved to build up to 700 homes on slightly more than 151 acres, located west of Opportunity Way, south of State Road 52, and north of Roberts Road.
Commissioners Scott Black, Knute Nathe and Hernandez voted in favor, while Woodard and Jim Shive, who is mayor pro tem, voted against.
Published September 29, 2021