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Longboat Key Tuesday, Jun. 15, 2010 7 years ago

St. Denis airs subcommittee skepticism

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

Town Manager Bruce St. Denis expressed frustration Thursday, June 10 with a subcommittee that was formed to review the employees he oversees.

The subcommittee — which consists of Commissioners David Brenner and Lynn Larson and Longboat Key, Lido Key, St. Armands Key Chamber of Commerce President Tom Aposporos — is charged with recruiting town residents to review town departments and make recommendations on how to better improve operations.

“This is not an excuse to see how many people we can fire,” said Subcommittee Chairman David Brenner. “But nothing should be off the table because a thorough review needs to be done.”

The subcommittee held its first meeting last week to create a mission statement (see box) that will be reviewed by the Town Commission at its Thursday, June 17 regular workshop.

Once the mission statement is accepted, the subcommittee will begin recruiting town residents who fit the criteria of being “experts” qualified to review town departments.

But St. Denis is worried about how the subcommittee will deem residents as experts.

“I am very interested in how we are going to determine someone is an expert and qualified to review town departments,” St. Denis said, “because I make the decisions that affect operations.”

Brenner said that a thorough recruiting process will be implemented to ensure someone is qualified to review a department and that the committee will present a report to the Town Commission.

“We will go out and find people who are qualified to review certain departments,” Brenner said. “We won’t rely just on resumes alone.”

Brenner and Larson also suggested that experts should be able to meet with town department heads and employees one-on-one, to promote an open discussion without the town manager’s presence.

St. Denis immediately questioned the suggestion.

“My concern is it’s my responsibility to run town departments and you seem to think there’s a benefit that will occur if I am not there during these discussions,” St. Denis said. “If someone puts opinions out in the public record in the form of these reviews, problems can begin to form between employees.”

Aposporos suggested that experts chosen to review departments should have initial conversations with the town manager, who can provide an overall department review and alert the expert to potential disagreements between employees.

Brenner told the subcommittee some town employees expressed an interest in participating in the process and told him they have ideas on how town departments can be run more efficiently.

But St. Denis warned that some of the employee input could be detrimental.

“Some of the input I have received in the past unravels someone else’s job,” St. Denis said. “I’m proud of the work that gets done here now.”

Despite St. Denis’ skepticism, Brenner said he believes the subcommittee will result in a more efficiently run town.

“I am willing to bet, Bruce, that you have at least one director who has some ideas they really think could be productive,” Brenner said. “But they know those ideas cost money. Here’s an opportunity for us to hear their concerns and suggestions. We won’t be so shortsighted to not spend $1 today that will produce a couple of bucks for us down the road.”

St. Denis urged the subcommittee to give him direction on what the experts would be discussing.
“Are we trying to make things better or cheaper?” St. Denis said. “If we want to make this place less expensive, we either try to reduce costs or be more efficient by keeping the level of service the same.”

A list of objectives for the subcommittee showed that the experts will thoroughly analyze town departments and develop a matrix of strengths and weaknesses as a basis for future action.



Below is a mission statement for the review of the town’s organization that will be presented to the Town Commission at its 1 p.m. Thursday, June 17 regular workshop.

The town of Longboat Key is located on the Gulf of Mexico, approximately half in each of Manatee and Sarasota counties. The special quality of the town as a premium residential island community is best described in the current Vision Plan.

The review is intended to examine how the town is organized to carry out its many services and functions and to provide observation on how they might be more efficiently and effectively performed. This review is being done after a lengthy period of dramatic growth and during a time of a stagnant economy. Therefore, the review contemplates maximizing the talents of existing employees; using unique and creative solutions; embracing technology; and inter-department personnel use.

The review must be carried out with the full recognition of the town’s special quality, today’s economic environments and our longstanding independent operating philosophy.

The review is being done as a mandate of the commission with the full cooperation of the town management in compliance with Article II, Section 12 and Article II, Section 23 of the town charter. Most likely the review will have to be completed in order for any recommendations to be reflected in the town’s budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2011.


Town Commission to review beach-chair issue

The Longboat Key Town Commission is expected to make a decision at its 1 p.m. Thursday, June 17 regular workshop on whether the beach chairs that are consistently left on the beach near the Gulfside Road beach access by area residents should continue to be removed by town staff.

Town Manager Bruce St. Denis wants the commission to make the final decision because he says the removal of the chairs, which are not allowed under town code, starts a cycle that ends with the residents putting the chairs back on the beach.

Also at its regular workshop, the Longboat Key Town Commission will discuss:

• A suggestion by Commissioner Jim Brown that the commission discuss the relationship between the commission and its Planning and Zoning Board, in an effort to improve communications between the two.

• How the town should proceed in regard to an administrative challenge filed by the Islandside Property Owners Coalition in response to the commission’s decision to approve changes to its code last month.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].


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