REDINGTON BEACH – Mayor Nick Simons called it a “win-win situation” for the town July 1 after the Town Commission approved hiring a community policing officer from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office to perform code enforcement duties.
The agreement to contract for code enforcement with the PCSO took the form of an addendum to the annual contract for law enforcement services, which the two entities currently maintain.
Corporal Dan DiFrancesco, whose first day on the job was July 2, is the town’s new code enforcement official. His duties, among others, include investigating and taking action for violations of the town’s code of ordinances and any subsequent communication, followup, and tracking that may be required.
DiFrancesco will work 10 hours per week at $38 per hour based on the actual number of hours worked. The agreement provides for additional hours if needed as well as employee backup whenever DiFrancesco is not on duty.
The newly hired officer served previously as the community policing and code enforcement officer for the city of Seminole. He will be the direct liaison with the town but the chain of command will remain within the Sheriff’s Office.
The town agreed to provide the necessary code enforcement training and any assistance from the clerical and administrative staff for research, preparing and sending out notices and correspondence, office space and equipment.
The sheriff’s office will provide the patrol car and the officer’s uniform.
Up until his July 2 retirement, Public Works Director Mark Davis served as the town’s code enforcer for many years.
Lack of compliance with the town’s codes has often been a problem, especially with short-term rentals as well as building violations having to do with residential properties. A special magistrate was hired by the town last year to hear certain cases and impose fines that accrue on a daily basis until the violation is remedied.
“We’re not looking to rattle anybody’s cage. We’re just looking for compliance,” said Simons.
The town hopes that having a uniformed police officer making the rounds will do just that.
Progressive Waste Solutions, the company with which the town contracts for trash pickup, is seeking, among other things, a projected 2.5 percent service cost increase for the first year of a three-year contract.
It also is proposing to provide all residents with a 96-gallon trash container to be placed at the curb in an effort to eliminate door-side service, which is slower and requires more manpower.
The anticipated change in cost and service was discussed in June when PSW representatives came before the commission regarding the contract renewal.
When some board members raised concern about the proposal and how it might impact some older residents, company reps indicated exceptions could be made to provide door side services to those residents who are physically unable to bring their trash to the curb.
Several commission members said they view the new proposal as a reduction in service and a cost increase.
At last week’s meeting, when the matter was revisited and in response to an audience member’s criticism of Progressive Waste’s failure to collect brush pile in a timely manner, Simons defended the company.
“The job this company does is so far over and above what the requirements are,” Simons said. “Residents are supposed to bundle yard waste in no more than 4-foot sections, but people don’t do that.”
According to Town Attorney Robert Metz, an extension of the current contract beyond the expiration date of Sept. 30 provides only for one extension, which has already been granted.
A new agreement would, therefore, need to be drawn up to address those matters of concern.
Metz noted that there exists a provision in the town’s code allowing for the town to contract for trash removal to enter into a new agreement, if it chooses, without putting it out for bid.
The current monthly cost for the service is $15 for single-family homes and $8 for condominium residents. This cost includes twice-weekly collection for solid waste and once per week recycling collection.
One of the two options PSW tendered was a 50-cent per month cost for the 96-gallon can in addition to monthly service charge of $15.91 for single-family homes and $8.74 for condominium residents with all or most pickup being at curbside.
The company offered a second option whereby trash cans would not be provided and door side pickup would remain an option. The cost would rise to $15.42 and $8.24 per month, respectively.
However, Commissioners Tom Dorgan and Fred Stiermann said they were not in favor of the new containers proposed by the company while Simons said he liked the idea of the new cans but did not care one way or another, and Commissioner Mark Deighton said would prefer to stay with the side door service.
The consensus among the board at that point was not to pursue the 96-gallon cans and have Progressive Waste Solutions present its best offer when it resubmits the contract to the town.
Davis steps down
In recognition of 36 years of service to the town, Public Works Director Mark Davis received a $1,000 gift certificate from the Town Commission.
“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the job you’ve done for this town for the length of time you’ve been here,” said Simons.
Davis thanked the commission and said, “I know we’ve had some challenges over the years but I have enjoyed working for the town. Thank you for everything.”