We want to know what we think we all ought to know, so we occasionally ask the people who do.
As the FY2020 budget was being finalized, City Manager Tony Delgado indicated that he would allow natural attrition to reduce the city's employee population - when and where it was appropriate - as a measure to reduce costs and/or reallocate funding. As the first quarter closed we asked how it was working.
Can you update the employee population and compensation data compared to the October 1 numbers?
Michael Brossart, City of Lakeland Finance Director
You can see the increases and decreases by department. I would note that the General Fund netted 1 new fulltime position and decreased by 3 part-time positions. Citywide we went up 4 fulltime and down 6 part-time positions. The payroll numbers will not show a decrease as over 50% of the employees were eligible (but must earn a qualiying review) 2.5% merit (Step) increase and all employees received a 2% cost of living increase. The increase in positions were driven by things such as:
Amazon coming into the Airport and the requirement for [evening] staffing
Stormwater ... as a way to maintain the lakeshores after the State, County and FWC determined that they could no longer provide that service
Water and Wastewater as a result of increased maintenance requirements
Much of the position changes in the General Fund were movement between divisions (I.e. Parks & Rec transferred a position to Finance). The net new position in the General Fund was an Emergency Operations Manager for the City. The cost for this position will be borne by all departments of the City and not just the General Fund.
Page G-20 of the FY’20 annual budget.
South Florida Avenue Road Diet
We deduce that the freshly installed devices on South Florida Avenue and the Lake Morton neighborhood are part of the process to determine how traffic will re-direct during the road diet's test period. Yes?
Transportation and Development Review Manager for the City of Lakeland
You are correct that the traffic counters are being used to collect baseline data from which to determine traffic changes related to the upcoming South Florida Avenue Road-Diet Test.
[The Florida Department of Transportation] is funding these counts at approximately 90 locations on the east and west sides of Florida Avenue from Beacon Road to Downtown. The counters are collecting vehicle volumes, speeds and classifications (cars, trucks, etc.).
The City’s Traffic Operations Division has also funded the installation of “Bluetooth” devices on signals on the Florida Avenue, Sikes Boulevard and Bartow Road corridors, which are already producing real-time information regarding travel times and delays on Florida Avenue within the Dixieland and Downtown areas.
Conditional Use Permits
Is it possible to adapt or amend the rules regarding neighbor notifications for conditional use permits? The current voluntary notification, with a range of 250, feet has proven unhelpful and inadequate. I propose that in the case of a designated historic district that the notice be provided to the entire neighborhood, which is impacted by all economic development activity anywhere in it, and that it be mandatory. A message to the formal association should be sufficient.
Tony Delgado, City Manager
As a courtesy not required by Florida law, we currently mail out notification letters to all property owners located within 500 feet for any zoning/land use applications and 250 feet for any CUP applications. This has been standard practice for the department since at least the 1990s. If a request is likely to be controversial, we always try to include any active neighborhood associations that we are aware of in the mailing list.
Historically, we have not mailed out letters to every property owner in a neighborhood due to practical concerns pertaining to staff time and printing/postage costs. While the 250’ notification radius for CUP applications is somewhat arbitrary, if increased we would need to apply to all property owners, not just those located in the historic districts, as a matter of equity. To account for the additional costs incurred, we would also likely need to increase the fees for such applications.
Proposed 20-002; approving a conditional use to allow for the construction of a garage apartment on property located at 829 Pennsylvania Avenue (1st reading 01-06-2020)
WHEREAS, an application has been filed by Alton Masters, for a conditional use to allow the construction of a garage apartment on property located at 829 Pennsylvania Avenue, as more particularly described on Attachment “A” and graphically depicted on Attachments “B,” “C,” and “D,” attached hereto; and
WHEREAS, on December 17, 2019, the Planning and Zoning Board held a public hearing on the request of the applicant to have such conditional use granted; and
WHEREAS, the Planning and Zoning Board approved the application on December 17, 2019, and recommended to the City Commission that the conditional use be granted;