REDINGTON SHORES – Former Commissioner Mary Beth Henderson had no opposition when she ran for mayor this year. Her swearing-in, along with two other commission members at the March 14 town commission meeting, was greeted with prolonged applause from the crowd gathered to welcome their new officials.
But Henderson soon found herself at odds with newly reappointed Vice Mayor Tom Kapper on her assignment of responsibility areas for the commissioners and herself, and with the rest of the commission on another issue. In each instance, she stood her ground, defending her positions and refusing to back off.
Kapper’s differences with Henderson began with an offer from a property owner to contribute $1,900 to the estimated $5,000 cost to install pavers at the beach access (178th Avenue and Lee Avenue) next to his home.
Henderson said the commission had previously agreed to pay no more than $1,500 on the project. Under the homeowner’s offer, the town’s cost would double, to about $3,000. But Kapper said that is the only beach access that lacks pavers, so the work needs to be done.
“We want our beach walkway to have pavers, and that is the only one that doesn’t,” Kapper said. “So, we can spend $5,000, or $3,000 (by accepting the offer).”
The commission voted 4-1 to accept the $1,900, with Henderson opposed.
Kapper’s strongest disagreement with Henderson came over her assignment of responsibility areas for the town’s functions to each commissioner.
Those appointments are especially significant in Redington Shores as the town has no manager. So, most of the governmental functions, such as finance, code enforcement, parks and recreation, building department, etc. are split among the commissioners. The assignments are made each year by the mayor, generally without controversy. Until this time.
Henderson gave responsibility for the building department to herself, taking it away from Kapper, who has building experience. Kapper’s new responsibilities include maintenance, parks, and human resources.
“I don’t understand why you took me out of building, when you have two ex-builders (Commissioner Jeff Neal and himself) on the commission. I’m very unhappy about that,” he said.
“I’m sorry you feel that way,” Henderson said to Kapper, “but I felt there needed to be a change in the Building Department.”
“Well, there may be a big change then,” Kapper responded, without further comment.
Neal also said he disagreed with Henderson on her assigning finance to new Commissioner Michael Robinson, saying he would like to take on that responsibility. Neal is keeping his longtime responsibility for sewers.
“The biggest part of the money that comes into this town is from the sanitary sewer system,” he said, and he would like to work with the town’s Finance Committee to change the way residents are charged for water and sewer usage.
Henderson said Robinson brings a unique set of skills to the commission which makes him well suited to handle the Finance area. Kapper objected, saying Robinson had not been with the city for long.
Henderson said she will stick with her assignments, but added “they could be changed if they don’t work out.”
Outside of the disagreements, which are rare in Redington Shores, the mayor and commission worked together to unanimously approve a series of issues on the agenda, all of which had been discussed before.
They approved a new eight-room hotel building for the Hotel Sol, on the condition it is never converted to apartments or condo units. Also getting the commission’s okay were improvements to Town Hall, including interior painting and new floors, the purchase of a valve to help prevent flooding for a trial run on low areas of 182nd Avenue and an ordinance with new rules for decks built over roofs.
Kapper was reappointed vice mayor, on the recommendation of Henderson.