LARGO – City commissioners voted 5-2 May 18 to approve a 1 percent increase in City Attorney Alan Zimmet’s $117,837 annual retainer.
Commissioner Curtis Holmes questioned whether Zimmet asked for the small raise or was offered it.
Holmes said city officials have mandated that no pay raises be approved for employees for the next fiscal year.
He said Zimmet, who was not at the meeting, is seeking a raise that comes out to “little over $20 bucks a week.”
“It doesn’t make much sense to me,” he said. “Mr. Zimmet is a highly competent lawyer. I have no problem with that at all. But a little over $20 bucks a week for a man of that caliber, it’s almost insulting. That’s why I said did he ask for it or was it offered to him.”
Zimmet asked for the 1 percent increase to help him offset the cost of his insurance, City Manager Mac Craig said.
Although Zimmet knows there is not going to be any pay increases for city employees, the cost for the city’s insurance “has gone up and the cost for insurance at his firm has gone up significantly,” Craig said.
Craig said that Zimmet does not intend to raise his hourly rates.
Craig said in a memo that Zimmet provides excellent legal services to the city and continues to work closely with the city’s annexation efforts, planning issues and liability claims.
He said that Zimmet, who has been city attorney since June 6, 2000, is highly respected for his legal skills by his peers.
The hourly rate for Zimmet’s firm will remain at $170. The raise takes effect at the start of the next fiscal year, Oct. 1.
Holmes and Commissioner Mary Black voted against the raise.
In other matters, Holmes asked for more details from city officials about why a city bus and driver are used to transport people to the Hard Rock Cafe from the Community Center.
He also said he was asked by residents why the city was promoting private venues, such as trips to the Tampa Bay Rays’ games.
“I don’t know if we are making money on this stuff or not,” Holmes said. “I would really like to see a financial breakdown on this,” he said.
He said he hasn’t found a Largo business that the city is being patronizing on such outings.
“I personally don’t care, but I think there is a moral question about the city shuffling people over to Derby Lane and casinos for gambling,” Holmes said.
Craig said that for the trips to Hard Rock Cafe, the “bus, driver, the chaperone, everything is paid for by the folks that ride that bus, including the cost of the bus.”
The trips are offered once a month. The city clears $150 a month on the whole trip because the cafe reimburses the people for the cost of the trip, Craig said.
“So they go free, but the city makes a profit,” Craig said, “and we have been doing it for years.”
Commissioners also established the date of the next city election as Nov. 2, 2010.
The candidate qualifying period will begin July 12, 8 a.m., and end July 26, 5 p.m.