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The latest happenings in your city government.


EPA Marks March 18-24 as Fifth Annual Fix a Leak Week

One in every 10 homes has a leak that is wasting at least 90 gallons of water per day

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) WaterSense program encourages Americans to check and replace leaky plumbing fixtures and sprinkler systems, helping households save more than 10,000 gallons of water per year and as much as 10 percent on utility bills.

“Easy-to-fix household leaks waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water annually nationwide, which is equal to the amount of water used by more than 11 million homes,” said EPA Acting Administrator for the Office of Water Nancy Stoner. “We’re not just wasting water; families also lose money from leaks with higher utility bills. That’s why Fix a Leak Week is so important, and why we encourage everyone to take a few simple steps that add up to make a significant positive impact.”

In just 10 minutes, businesses and homeowners can: check winter water bills and fixtures for water waste; twist and tighten pipe and hose connections; and consider replacing broken or inefficient fixtures with WaterSense-labeled models.

If winter water usage for a family of four exceeds 12,000 gallons per month, it’s likely that the home has a leak problem. Here are some easy tips:

  • Check toilets for silent leaks by putting a few drops of food coloring in the tank at the back and, if after 10 minutes, color shows up in the bowl before flushing, it may be time to make an easy repair and replace the flapper.
  • Check outdoor hoses for damage from winter frost and tighten connections at the water source.
  • For in-ground sprinkler systems, a professional certified through a WaterSense-labeled program can inspect sprinkler heads and pipes for signs of leakage and help homeowners maintain an efficient system and healthy lawn.
  • Check additional plumbing and outdoor fixtures for leaks. They may just need a quick twist or pipe tape.

WaterSense, a partnership program sponsored by EPA, seeks to protect the future of our nation's water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water with water-efficient products, new homes, and services. Since the program's inception in 2006, WaterSense has helped consumers save 287 billion gallons of water and $4.7 billion in water and energy bills.

Learn more about fixing leaks, find a certified irrigation professional, or search for WaterSense labeled plumbing and irrigation products: http://www.epa.gov/watersense



Hamrick Named Director of Human Resources

Tommy Hamrick was named Director of Human Resources for the City of Lakeland.  This is a newly created position that uses one Director to oversee Employee Relations and Civil Service. 

The appointment of Hamrick as Director of Human Resources and the consolidation of two Departments within the City is part of a global streamlining effort by City Manager Doug Thomas.  “We have been working toward a goal to improve efficiencies within this area for some time,” said Thomas.  “Employee Relations and Civil Service have historically been two separate Departments with some overlap of responsibilities and both performed a number of parallel functions. This consolidation also involved the negotiation and approval of a Shared Services Agreement with the Civil Service Board.”

Hamrick will be responsible for the administrative and professional work in planning, directing and coordinating the City's central Human Resources program that includes civil service functions.  Hamrick said, “I am honored to have been selected as the City’s inaugural Director of Human Resources.  My education, training and experience, coupled with the empowerment of a true HR Department, will enable us to create a more effective and efficient system for managing the municipality’s employees.”

Thomas said, “Tommy has been serving as the Director of Civil Service and he has been overseeing employee relations for the past several months after the retirement of the previous Director.”  He added, “His proven track record along with his shared vision of a consolidated Human Resources Department played a significant role in the hiring process.”

Hamrick has been with the City of Lakeland since October 2004.  He has functioned as Civil Service Director as well intermittent duties as the Director of Retirement Services.   He has a diverse background in human resources with experience across the United States and abroad with companies such as EME, Siemens and FMHI.  Hamrick graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and he received his Master’s Degree from the University of Central Florida in Industrial/Organizational Psychology.

He is a member of the International Personnel Management Association, the International Personnel Assessment Council and the Society for Human Resource Management.  He is recognized by Human Resource Certification Institute and holds qualifications from the Florida Public Pension Trustee Association.  He is also a Certified Public Manager.

Hamrick has lived in Lakeland since 2001 with his wife Marcy who currently works in human resources for Publix Super Markets.  He and his wife have three children: Tommy Jr. (8), Ian (5), and Molly (2). He is 43 years old and his annual salary as Human Resources Director is $110,000 per year.


Mayor Fields Shares Excitement About USF Health System

Today, during her State of the University address, USF President Judy Genshaft announced that the university plans to create USF Health System, and looks to Lakeland Regional Health Systems, Inc. to join as its inaugural member.

“The City of Lakeland has enjoyed a long history of having a community of high-quality physicians alongside its excellent hospital, Lakeland Regional Medical Center,” said Mayor Fields.  “We should celebrate the opportunity to continue building upon this history of excellence by adding nationally recognized research and education alongside our exceptional community-based health care delivery system.” 

Lakeland Regional Medical Center, with its 4,500 employees, and its active medical staff of 484 physicians, is the fifth largest hospital in Florida and operates the busiest single site Emergency Department in the entire State.  Elaine Thompson, PhD, FACHE, President and CEO of Lakeland Regional Health Systems, echoed Mayor Fields’ remarks adding, “Mayor Fields has been exceptionally supportive and insightful about the future of the region’s health care. He understands the significance of creating USF Health System, and the economic potential it brings to the City of Lakeland and our community.”

Later this month, Dr. Thompson will seek approval from the Lakeland Regional Health Systems, Inc. Board of Directors to formally join USF Health System.  “Joining USF Health System creates a relationship for the good of the organization, our medical staff, and the community we serve,” said Bill Mutz, Chairman of Lakeland Regional Health Systems, Inc.  “We expect the USF Health System to be a transformational and innovative partnership that will grow to include other hospitals and physicians across the region.” 

During the next several months, Dr. Thompson will be executing an extensive communication plan to share these future plans with the community.  “We recognize that our health care delivery system is on the brink of historic change, and we are already seeing a wave of consolidations and new affiliations across the Tampa Bay and Central Florida region,” said Mayor Fields.  “By joining USF Health System, Lakeland Regional Health Systems, Inc. will continue to strengthen and grow even better, but more importantly, the hospital will remain an asset of the City and it will continue to be led by a local Board of Directors made up of our own community leaders.”


Lakeland Electric Fuel Charge - Effective October 1, 2012

The Lakeland City Commission voted to increase the fuel charge for Lakeland Electric customers 50 cents per 1,000 kWh effective for meters read on or after October 1, 2012.  The new fuel charge will be $42.80 per 1,000 kWh. 

After listening to a presentation at September 17, 2012 Utility Committee meeting, staff recommended an increase to the current fuel charge based on the slight increases for natural gas in both the New York Mercantile Exchange and the Henry Hub Spot Market.  Forecasters have implied that some wells have come off line, causing the natural gas market to increase slightly.

The Utility Committee also voted unanimously to reduce the environmental compliance charge from $2.456 per 1,000 kWh to $2.348 per 1,000 kWh. This vote was also passed by the City Commission during the September 17, 2012 meeting.  The environmental charge is calculated in the base charge below.

RESIDENTIAL RATES BASED ON 1,000 kWh

                         Current            New Rates – Effective October 1, 2012

Base Charge     $  59.42           $  59.31 (includes environmental decrease)

Fuel Charge      $  42.30           $  42.80 (includes fuel increase)

TOTAL:             $101.72            $102.11

Environmental compliance charges are directly related to federal and state initiatives regarding clean air and water mandates. Most of the expenses are related to energy production and include air emission controls, water quality monitoring and capital spending for equipment necessary to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act. 

Lakeland Electric bills are broken out for customer convenience in detail to show the base charge, fuel charge and appropriate taxes and service charges.  The fuel charge on a utility bill is exactly that, the actual costs for fuel used to generate the amount of electricity used within your residence.  Most utilities subscribe to the same billing practice and break out the base rate and the fuel charge for their customers. There is no mark-up in fuel.  In fact, fuel is a straight pass-through to customers. 

Based on Florida Municipal Electric Association data, Lakeland Electric’s residential rates after the October 1st fuel charge increase will be the third lowest in the state for residential customers as well as the third lowest in Florida for all of the commercial rate classes.

Visit www.lakelandelectric.com for more information and to see a residential rate comparison.