REDINGTON BEACH – Public Works assistant Grant Allen pitched a proposal to the Redington Beach Town Commission Jan. 22 offering to take over the lawn mowing and clean up tasks for properties that are in violation of the town’s code ordinances.
Allen, who was hired by the town last June, is suggesting as a way to save money if the town purchase its own tools and equipment for a start-up cost of $7,550 that would include a one-year warranty on the purchase but does not factor in the cost for its maintenance nor for fuel charges.
The town currently maintains an $18,000 a year contract with an outside landscaping company, as it has since 1985, to mow and tidy up the yards of messy, delinquent properties.
Allen told the commission he would not charge for his time or labor, as he would consider it to be within the scope of his full-time duties.
His proposal included a schedule in which he would mow lawns two days a week, each week, during the summer months from March to October and two days every other week during the winter months from October to March.
He tried to convince the commission of the money that could potentially be saved, freeing it up for other projects around town such as upgrading the town’s sprinkler system.
“This seems like a win-win situation for the town. I can do this while doing other jobs,” Allen said. He also assured the commission the additional workload would not detract from his regular responsibilities. Yet, some commission members voiced skepticism.
“I’m surprised that 40 percent of the time can be spent in mowing lawns,” Commissioner Tom Dorgan said.
“I think Grant’s time should be spent doing things other than cutting grass … we can hire anybody to cut grass,” said Vice Mayor Fred Steiermann.
A property is considered to be in violation of code when the grass is at least 12 inches high. The property owner must be notified and given a specific time to correct the violation. If compliance is not met at that time, the property gets slated for a clean up after further state statute procedures are followed.
The commission acknowledged the town often fails to recoup payment to tidy up derelict and abandoned properties.
In an email, Mark Davis, the town’s public works director and code enforcement officer, said the number of such properties within the last year has been “exceptionally high due to foreclosures, abandonments or vacant properties.”
He said the town “placed 29 liens on neglected properties that were in violation of town codes ... that had to be mowed, cleaned up or both.”
Allen, who for many years worked as a groundskeeper and in building maintenance for the Florida Department of Management and as a certified storm water management inspector, is expected to succeed Davis upon his retirement in two years, a position that as some of the commission members noted, would require more supervisory duties.
Mayor Nick Simons said if the town purchases its own lawn mowing equipment, it would be an investment and that if the arrangement with Allen proved unsuccessful, the town could always sell it. He said before taking action on the proposal, however, he wished to seek input from Davis and discuss it further at a future board meeting.
In response to residents’ complaints about bonfires on the beach, the board will establish a written policy. The town currently has no enforcement procedures if the beach is left in a state of disarray in the aftermath of a bonfire, nor does it restrict permitting to residents only.
For those seeking to hold a beach bonfire, the usual route has been to first get signed approval from the Madeira Beach Fire Department and then approval from the town’s public works director.
The provisions will include limiting bonfires to residents only; prohibit fires during turtle nesting season April through October; set a specific hour of the night when the fire must be extinguished and require the site be left as it was found, clean with no trash or charred wood.
Commissioner Mark Deighton and Town Clerk Missy Clarke agreed to draft a proposal on policy and procedure and present it at the next commission meeting.
Deputy clerk search
Over 40 applications were received, according to Missy Clarke, in response to a recent ad for a deputy clerk.
Clarke, along with Steiermann, said she will cull the number down to about five qualified candidates whose resumes will be presented and discussed among the commissioners at a future meeting.
Clark held the position of deputy clerk until Dec. 31 when Janina Patrus officially retired as the town clerk and the commission voted unanimously to promote Clarke to the newly vacated position.