REDINGTON BEACH — Everyone loves free stuff, but town commissioners recently learned they have been getting stuff for free for which they were supposed to be paying.
The revelation will likely affect calculations for next year’s budget.
At the Aug. 21 commission meeting, Mayor Nick Simons said a regional officer of SAFEBuilt, which provides the town’s building services, informed him recently that the company’s local staff has been providing services beyond the scope of its contract with Redington Beach.
SAFEBuilt is a private company that issues building permits and provides building inspection and town planning services for Redington Beach. It has been providing such services under a contract signed about a year and a half ago. According to the company official, the contract did not include many of the services of Bruce McLaughlin, who has been employed as the town planner.
McLaughlin has been heavily involved in recent months in working with the town attorney to rewrite the town code.
Simons said in the future, services provided by McLaughlin as part of the SAFEBuilt contract will be more limited.
McLaughlin indicated in a letter to commissioners that he could continue as town planner as an independent contractor at a rate of $45 an hour for 20 hours a week. The commission has also received an inquiry from another firm, Calvin, Giordano and Associates, expressing interest in providing town planning services.
The commission plans to finalize its fiscal 2019-2020 budget by the first scheduled public hearing on Sept. 3.
At the Aug. 21 meeting, Commissioner Tom Dorgan, who oversees town finances, presented changes to the proposed $1.38 million budget. He has set aside $9,500 from the stormwater fund reserve for replacement of an outfall pipe at Friendship Park. In the general fund, the seawall reserve has been increased by $14,000, while $10,000 has been allocated to the reserve for the Public Works building. In the capital fund, $40,000 has been budgeted for renovations of Friendship Park.
The budget will also include a 4% pay raise for town employees.
Planning for the Friendship Park renovation has been underway for some time and is now approaching reality. The work primarily involves expansion of the paved area surrounding the pergola to about 2,500 square feet.
The area will be enlarged in an arc pattern extending outward nearly 40 feet from the retaining wall, incorporating a portion of the sidewalk. The pergola will be relocated slightly to the north, while stairs will descend from the rear to a kayak launch site on the Intracoastal Waterway.
In conjunction with the renovation, a new outfall pipe will be installed.
Commissioner Fred Steiermann added that some of the lights in Friendship Park are broken. He said the Parks and Recreation Board is considering purchasing new lights for Town Park. The replaced lights could then be installed in Friendship Park.
The commission authorized advertising bids for the project.
Commissioners also continued a discussion on a proposed revision of a section of the town code dealing with noise, overgrown vegetation and landscaping and the distribution of printed material.
Commissioners agreed to keep the proposed decibel levels for determining loud noises. Town Attorney Jay Daigneault told them that while noise complaints are not an “ongoing” problem, current standards are subjective. The measuring of noise decibel levels by a meter has fewer problems with enforcement, he added, but Pinellas County deputies don’t always carry measuring equipment.
Commissioners also decided to remove “substantially obscures” from language about nuisance and overgrown landscaping and vegetation, saying such terminology was vague. Dorgan noted there was other ways to deal with such problems.
Daigneault said he was still working to develop language dealing with the distribution of written or printed material that would allow publications such as the Beacon to continue distribution.
In other action, commissioners approved on final reading a portion of the town code concerning housing discrimination and the removal of franchise provisions from the code. In initially presenting the changes, Daigneault said much of the code’s provisions have been superseded by state and federal laws.