REDINGTON SHORES – Residents will no longer be able to turn on their TV’s or computers and view the happenings at Town Commission meetings.

Commissioners decided at their Dec. 26 workshop to no longer video record their meetings. The action was taken after learning of the requirement to add closed captioning, which is now needed to be ADA compliant. Televising of the meetings was actually stopped several months ago, in anticipation of the new law, which takes effect in January.

Mayor MaryBeth Henderson said a very high-end transcription machine would have to be purchased or someone hired to take down every word that was said at the meetings, to meet the ADA requirements. She also said the audio system in the main meeting room would have to be upgraded to enable any transcription machine to capture conversation accurately.

Several commissioners said they had received no complaints, or a single complaint, since the broadcasts were stopped.

“This is money we don’t need to spend,” said Commissioner Tom Kapper.

Website upgraded for ADA compliance

Amir DaBiri, the town’s website designer, said steps are being taken to make the website more ADA-friendly. The accessibility guidelines say the site must accommodate both old and young users, non-English speaking users, and persons with varying mental and physical abilities.

Both design and content improvements were made to the site, DaBiri said. He has added features that allow the user to easily increase the text size and color contrast. There is also a built-in function that will read aloud the text on the webpages, and another that will translate the text to foreign languages.

“We’ve covered the basics for sure and just need to improve a few more things,” DaBiri said.

Insurance discount for improved flood rating

The town will improve from a 7 to 6 on the Community Rating System related to flood risk management. The improvement will allow residents an additional 5 percent discount in their flood insurance premiums. Currently Redington Shores residents are entitled to a 15 percent discount.

Lisa Foster, who is Pinellas County floodplain administrator, was at the commission meeting and described some of the actions being taken to improve the town’s rating. Foster, who is also a Redington Shores resident, has headed the town’s Program for Public Information Committee over the past year.

The committee identifies projects to educate the public about critical flood information, such as mailing out flood preparation brochures, placing flyers in parks, sending messages via e-newsletters and the website, preparing a checklist for winter residents, and, an upcoming project to place an electronic sign in front of Town Hall that can include flood warning messages.

Options for Town Hall to be evaluated

The costs and benefits of upgrading the present Town Hall to provide greater protection from hurricanes versus moving Town Hall to the former Wells Fargo bank building on Gulf Boulevard will be considered. The commission decided to have an engineering firm evaluate both options before making a decision.

A possible move to the bank building was a major topic at last month’s workshop. It came up during a discussion of Flood Mitigation Project strategies.

At that meeting, Henderson said the bank building had advantages. It is twice as large as the present Town Hall, and has a vault that could be a safe and secure file room to store town business documents in case of an evacuation, she said. The current Town Hall has virtually no storage space.

The bank is also next to Del Bello Park versus what will likely become a busy commercial area at the current Town Hall.

At the Dec. 26 meeting, Commissioner Jeff Neal warned of the expense of “taking care of more than what we need.”

But Commissioner Michael Robinson said the town should hire somebody to get an appraisal of the Wells Fargo building. An appraisal of the current Town Hall is already in process, he said. Commissioner Kapper said the town should have an engineer evaluate the bank building and “tell us what we need to do to turn it into a Town Hall.”

The commission agreed to get a professional evaluation of both buildings so that they can make an informed decision on the subject. Commissioner Pat Drumm was not at the meeting.