REDINGTON SHORES — Since January, during the illness and later resignation of former Building Official Steve Andrews, building services have been handled by an outside firm. Town officials and commission members have been pleased for the most part with how that arrangement has worked.
Now, the commission has decided to contract out building services on a permanent basis. Commissioners decided at their April 24 commission workshop to go out for bids, looking to hire an outside company for a job that has always been done by a town employee.
The job would be part time, but the hours worked would be flexible. The timeframe would be whatever is needed to get the job done, said Mayor MaryBeth Henderson.
During Andrews’ absence, Bruce Cooper of M.T. Causley, LLC, was hired to do building services. Cooper said he works on Redington Shores issues at Town Hall three days a week, three or four hours a day. With the time spent, Cooper said he has “kept up with everything.”
Pinellas County Floodplain Administrator Lisa Foster, who lives in Redington Shores, said Redington Shores’ location in a coastal high hazard area subject to FEMA floodplain rules creates “a very unique situation” which is challenging for a building official. Foster said “it will be a pretty large undertaking to find a building official who meets all the criteria” because “there are so many things they need to be qualified in.”
“Bruce (Cooper) is fully qualified,” Foster said.
Commissioner Michael Robinson agreed.
Commissioner Jeff Neal said, “Bruce is doing everything Steve (Andrews) was doing. He’s doing a great job, but we should go out for bids.”
Henderson said Cooper would do the job for free if he can keep all the permit fees.
“He takes all the permit fees, and we have no liability, and he doesn’t cost us a dime,” she said.
Neal said the building permit fees are a lucrative source of income for the town. But Henderson said in most years, expenses associated with the fees are greater than the revenue generated.
Most commissioners agreed with hiring a contracted building official. Only Commissioner Tom Kapper said he saw advantages to having an in-house employee.
The person hired should be experienced in floodplain management, said Commissioner Pat Drumm.
Some commission members said the person hired should work five days a week for the town.
But Town Clerk Mary Palmer said the three-day a week arrangement with Cooper is “plenty of time.” Cooper can be reached on the phone immediately, she said, adding that “building permits are going out much faster than they did for the former (fulltime) building official.”
Palmer also said she had received “a lot of compliments” on the work Cooper has done.
The commission decided to go out for bids to hire a contractor for the building official job. The work would be part time. Bids will be requested based on 15 hours per week and 25 hours per week.
Parking ban on residential street to continue, with exceptions
After hearing last month from residents who wanted to park on their streets in front of their homes, the commission decided at the April 24 meeting to keep the ban on residential parking in place, along with exceptions. That parking prohibition has been enforced, but has never been put into an ordinance. That will now be done.
On the advice of Commissioner Drumm, the town will follow Belleair Beach’s parking rules, which do not allow parking on residential streets, but allow exceptions for emergency, construction and service vehicles, social gatherings with prior notification, and vehicles with “disabled” stickers.
The commission agreed with Kapper that construction and service vehicles should be clearly marked as such, and the exception to not include workers’ personal vehicles. They should park at a nearby public lot or designated parking spaces and walk to the work site, Kapper said.
Police Chief Richard Swann said that he appreciated the effort to put more clarity into the parking rules. But he also said, “Discretion is always going to be a part of this job. If police deem something as a safety issue, they’re going to have discretion” to take appropriate action.
No one in the meeting audience spoke on the residential parking ban issue.