DADE CITY — Dade City commissioners gave tentative approval in a 3-1 vote Monday evening to raise property taxes and to give themselves a raise.
Commissioners approved raising the millage rate from 7.1 to 7.1549 mills, which amounts to about 5.5 cents per $1,000 in home value.
The commissioners’ raises amount to an additional $13,500 increase in expenses.
Commissioner salaries will increase from $100 to $300 per month, and the mayor’s salary rises from $150 to $450 per month.
The millage increase and raises are part of a $14.5 million budget.
Mayor Camille Hernandez did not attend the meeting.
Commissioner Scott Black opposed the millage and salary increases.
“I have serious concerns about us raising the millage rate … and we’re getting a raise where, if we didn’t give ourselves the raise, the millage rate would stay approximately the same. The millage rate this year is due to the raise we’ve given ourselves,” Black said.
City Manager Billy Poe said the amount of the millage increase does closely match the cost of the raises.
Commissioner Eunice Penix and Commissioner Jim Shive defended the raise.
Shive blamed city staff for the lack of raises over the years, saying that the city manager and city staff have directed the commission.
“It’s time for the commission to direct staff,” he said.
Penix said commissioners have not had a raise in 30 years. Shive added that he believed it was time.
“This position needs to be in line with the Florida League of Cities,” he said.
Resolutions on the millage increase and salary increases will require another public hearing before they are final.
The budget also includes a 2 percent onetime bonus for city employees that is based on a percentage of an employee’s salary. The bonus is in lieu of a raise.
Wendell Mccullough, a groundskeeper for the city, asked the commission to give all employees the same amount in bonuses. He said he was speaking on behalf of about a dozen city public works employees who attended the meeting. The bonuses would cost about $60,000.
Mccullough said a bonus based on the pay rate “will be a true bonus for a few.”
Shive, Penix and Black said they could support an equal bonus for all employees.
The commission did not take a vote on the issue.
Poe said Tuesday that he is going to discuss the issue with the commissioners because the workers who came to the meeting amount to less than 10 percent of city employees and cannot be considered necessarily to hold majority opinion.