DDA board approves staff salary adjustment, discuss trolley for Blues Fest

jtate@bradenton.comNovember 20, 2013 

BRADENTON -- The Bradenton Downtown Development Authority unanimously approved a 6 percent and a 5 percent raise for DDA staff members Tuesday morning.

Dave Gustafson, DDA director, now has a salary of $81,885, and DDA program administrator, Karen Kyser's raise brought her to a salary of $54,600.

In the DDA's proposed budget, Gustafson, DDA director, was to receive a salary of $92,250. Although, city officials are pleased with the work Gustafson has done; they said a budgeted 19 percent increase was too much.

Greg Green, DDA board member and chair, said the $92,250 line item was not the definite raise Gustafson would have received, but a way to have funds available for a salary adjustment.

"This was our final conclusion," said Green. "If you view this with tunnel vision, my personal opinion is his salary is still below market, but we can't look at any one person in that context."

Councilman Harold Byrd, who disapproved of the 19 percent increase, said he was pleased with the final numbers but has mixed feelings about the raises.

"One side of me is glad to see it reduced significantly, but it's still more than what other employees are getting," said Byrd.

Green said both employees are receiving appropriate raises that are within the budget.

"Bottom line, both Karen and Dave have been doing great jobs for several years, and we are trying to compensate them as fairly as we can within our means," said Green.

Green said have not been given increases during the tough economic times of the past few years.

The DDA board approves its own budget, but City Council has the authority to veto expenditures.

The salary adjustment left the DDA with $11,965 to be used for other needs.

In other business:

• Realize Bradenton will be using Siesta Key Trolley and Sun Ride Pedicabs to provide concert-goers to the Bradenton Blues Festival with transportation to and from the Riverwalk and various weekend activities. The trolley will begin running a downtown loop Dec. 6 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. On Dec. 7 more than 10 parking lots are available for free parking within a five or 10 minute walk or short trolley ride to the festival site on the Riverwalk. Pedicabs will be available on Saturday from 9 a.m. to midnight.

"The idea is to provide a fabulous destination weekend experience," said Laura McKeithen, RB creative services and community builder.

• Carl Callahan, city clerk, spoke to the DDA board about assisting the city in rallying businesses to invest in new holiday lights for their buildings. He said these upgrades are targeted for the 2014 holiday season. Kyser said any business or private citizens interested, should contact the DDA for more information at 941-932-9440.

Janey Tate, city of Bradenton and Palmetto reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. You can follow her on Twitter at Janey_Tate.

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