LARGO -- Money, money, money.
Facing a cutback in the budget, because commissioners insist on not imposing an increase on Largo taxpayers, the City Commission this week was hit with an unexpected expense.
Legal expenses, the purview of Alan Zimmett, the city's lawyer who is paid well more than $2,000 a week for part time work, are out of control.
The administration had to go to the commission at Tuesday night's meeting to extract $70,000 from the fund balance so that legal bills for August and September could be paid. Of the $70,000, $17,750 is going directly to Zimmet.
This represents a 35 percent over charge in the original budget of $199,400.
Besides Zimmet's $103,000-plus yearly salary, he shuffles another $100,000-plus to his law firm for additional work. That's well more than $200,000 a year going into the pockets of Zimmet, the part time employee, and his confederates in his law firm.
While three other commissioners backed Mary Black's initiative to hold 2006 taxes at the rollback rate -- that is, the rate that raises the same amount of revenue that was produced in 2005 and which means no tax increase -- three commission members were happy to increase what is taken from Largo taxpayers.
Pat Gerard, Gay Gentry and Harriet Crozier, the gang of three and the guarantors of City Manager Steve Stanton's job, were perfectly happy to impose a 14.5 increase on the taxpayers.
City staff, the Finance Advisory Board (which is generally ignored) and even the mayor and commissioners are going through the budget with a fine toothed comb seeking cuts.
Black asked the administration for a line item budget so that cuts could be more easily discernible. Amazingly, the budgets, provided to the commission, were not provided to the Finance Advisory Board until Black squawked about it.
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