By Mary Thurwachter
Taxpayers in Lantana will save about $1 million over the next nine years because the town is refinancing its water and sewer bonds.
At its Nov. 26 meeting, the Town Council agreed to refinance the bonds with TD Bank for a principal amount not to exceed $4.5 million.
In 1998, a $9.215 million bond was issued with a 3.6 percent interest rate and had risen to 4.65 percent. The refinanced rate will charge an annual interest of 1.48 percent. The bonds will mature in October 2021.
Council members praised Town Manager Deborah Manzo, who was up for her annual evaluation during the same meeting, for ferreting out the savings, one of many ways she has found to cut costs since she was hired in April.
Among her cost-saving achievements, according to Mayor Dave Stewart, Manzo restructured the lifeguard staffing, reduced a vacant police officer position from full-time to 30 hours, and is currently analyzing the town’s garbage and trash programs, anticipating savings of $50,000.
Manzo also found a way to give city employees a 2.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment. They hadn’t received merit raises since 2007.
After taking turns praising her good work, the council voted to raise Manzo’s salary to $112,000 a year. Stewart had suggested a salary in the $108,000 to $112,000 range.
Hired six months ago, Manzo stepped into former Town Manager Mike Bornstein’s $97,476 annual salary — about $20,000 less than she made as assistant city manager in Greenacres.
Council member Lynn Moorhouse said Manzo’s cost savings measures had paid for her raises for five years or more.
“I love her team attitude,” council member Phil Aridas said. “She brought a breath of fresh air to this town.”
Council member Tom Deringer said Manzo had done “so much for the town, she deserved a raise of at least 10 percent.”
The new salary is more in keeping with what managers make in comparable municipalities, Stewart said.
Bornstein, who took a job as Lake Worth’s manager in April, had turned down pay increases in Lantana and actually reduced his salary during tight budget years, Stewart said. “If Mike got his reductions back and his 2 percent increases, we’d be in the range.”
Manzo said she was surprised and pleased with the vote of confidence — and raise — she received.
Her future pay increases aren’t likely to take such a large leap.
Next year, whatever raise employees get, she will get, Stewart said.
By Mary Thurwachter