REDINGTON BEACH – Deputy Town Clerk Missy Clarke has moved up a rung on the ladder and will now hold the position of town clerk.
Clarke, who has worked for the town since 2007 and has worked in municipal government since 2001, received a unanimous and formal stamp of approval at the Jan. 8 Town Commission meeting.
Commissioners voted to pay Clarke an annual salary of $52,500 with a $2,500 increase contingent upon a performance review in January 2014.
“I would say Missy has set the bar high on the initial contact skills, on the telephone, greeting people,” said Mayor Nick Simons. “Everybody has nothing but nice things to say about Missy regardless if they get the answer they want when they walk out of here. At least the way it was handled was very good.”
She replaces Janina Patrus who, after a six-year stint as the town clerk, announced her retirement at a special meeting on Dec.19. Her last day on the job was Dec. 31. At that time, the commission asked Clarke if she would like to take over the reins to which she replied yes.
Prior to coming to Redington Beach, Clarke was a city clerk in Minnesota.
The job of town clerk entails wearing many hats in addition to working under the direction of the mayor and town commissioners in providing administrative services, maintaining the town’s official records and history; managing purchasing and payroll activities for Town Hall, assisting in preparation of the annual town budget, coordinating municipal elections; posting legal notification of commission and committee meetings, preparing agenda materials and minutes for Commission meetings, issues permits for parking, coordinates updates to the town’s website and acts as a notary public.
The town will now begin a search for a new deputy clerk, an entry-level yet full-time administrative position that would allow for a degree of on-the-job training if clerical skills are lacking.
The Town Commission determined a pay rate in the range of $13 to $15 per hour, in addition to benefits.
“Though it’s an entry level clerk position, I would like to see somebody of a semi-professional nature. I don’t believe you’re going to get that for $13,” said Commissioner Tom Dorgan.
“In this economy, I believe you will,” replied Commissioner Fred Steiermann who said he envisioned the ideal candidate as a “someone looking for a secondary income.”
When asked by the commission to list what she considered some of the essential qualities of a candidate to be, Clarke said, “Personality is key above all else, someone who is a good listener … answering phones, issuing permits for yard sales, beach parking, assisting with code enforcement, maintaining property files and the newsletter. Secretarial skills can be learned, and I’d be willing to guide that person if they don’t have that.”
Ultimately, the board agreed to a pay rate of $13 per hour, approximately $27,000 a year, with a possible increase after a 6-month review.
Clarke was given the task of starting the interview process and eventually culling the applicants to a short list of five candidates submitted for the board’s approval.
Although the mayor said he did not want to put a time constraint on the hiring procedure, he added he would like to see the position filled sooner rather than later.
Town votes against BP settlement claim
The Town Commission agreed unanimously that Redington Beach would not participate in a class action suit against BP Oil for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. The deadline to file for the claim is Jan. 17.
The Tampa law firm of Trenam and Kemker has partnered with several other law firms outside of Florida in an attempt to convince Gulf Coast municipalities including those in Pinellas County that it would be worthwhile to band together and try and convince the BP Corporation to open a class action suit.
The suit maintains that although Florida’s Gulf Coast beaches remained untainted from the spill, there was, nonetheless, indirect impact in the form of lost revenue mainly from tourism.
Attorney Robert Decker from Trenam and Kemker, who had come before the commission last May regarding the matter, revisited the matter at last week’s meeting.
Decker said the damages incurred from the disaster “do not have to be perfectly quantifiable, but they are quantifiable to a degree.”
He described the proposed claim as one that is “Worthwhile,” adding “What I can’t tell you is to pursue it. I’m not trying to sell you a pig in a poke and I can’t tell you that you will get X number of dollars in damages.”
“The problem with Redington is self-evident in that there is not a whole lot of commercial activity, and that is probably why your town attorney and others have disclaimed to go forward,” Decker said.
A number of local municipalities, presumably those whose revenue is more dependent on tourist dollars and may have been impacted by the oil spill, have opted to participate in the class action suit including, Madeira Beach, Treasure Island, St. Petersburg.
Decker explained that pursuing the claim would require some of the town attorney’s time as well as the need to evaluate financial information.
Should the claim be denied, there would be no cost to the town.
The commission, however, remained unconvinced about the validity of the claim as it pertains to Redington Beach.
“You could justify it by saying that you had a loss in property value and a loss of ad valorem revenue, but other than that it’s just based on perception,” said Dorgan. “A lot the damages that were caused by the oil spill were caused by public perception and not what the actual damages were.”
“Unless we’re helping our fellow communities by getting involved in this, I think it’s a karma issue,” said Steiermann.
The commission made no motion to discuss the issue further.
Resident complains of speeding cars
Town resident Norman Snyper came before the commission with a complaint of speeding cars at the area of 161st Avenue and Second Street.
“I have kids who play there, and they wait at the bus stop in the morning,” he said.
Snyper inquired about the possibility of getting stop signs installed.
Board members pointed out that installing things such as speed bumps, stop signs and the like often end up in a long, drawn-out process.
The more effective alternative according to the commission lies with traffic surveillance and closer parental supervision.
“If you think they’re moving too fast there, we can have the public safety commissioner get a police officer to do enforcement there for a while, and that usually calms them down,” said Steiermann.
“A lot of these kids are out there unsupervised, so the parents do share some responsibility in this matter,” said Simons.
The commission agreed to contact the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department to step up enforcement patrol, especially during the times the school bus picks up and drops off.