Planning, Zoning and Building Director Monica Simpson urged the Longboat Key Town Commission at its Thursday, Oct. 15 regular workshop to consider bolstering a severely depleted code-
The code department, Simpson said, has only one code-enforcement officer and no administrative assistant.
That leaves code-enforcement officer Heidi Micale to handle the entire workload. Simpson said the department is not effective in its current state.
Micale, Simpson said, is so overworked that the only time she has available to look for code violations is when she travels to and from an appointment to investigate a complaint.
“If she happens to see another violation on her way, she will address those violations,” Simpson said. “We find we are more reactive than proactive than what we would like,” Simpson said.
And, during sea-turtle-nesting season, Simpson says Micale starts her days at 4 a.m. to investigate sea-turtle-lighting complaints on top of her other duties.
“If you consider anything versus nothing, I would ask you to bring someone on during sea-turtle-nesting season if you can’t do anything more,” Simpson said.
For years, town attorney David Persson has warned the Town Commission that if the town isn’t going to enforce its code violations, then the codes should be revised.
The commission has not yet given the town manager direction to use the $57,000 it placed into the fiscal year 2009-10 budget for an additional code-enforcement officer.
“I understand your concerns about the budget,” Simpson said. “I just wanted you to be aware of the department as it stands today.”
Vice Mayor Robert Siekmann told his fellow commissioners last month that it would be wrong to add a job when a police-officer position was not filled and there were layoffs in the Planning, Zoning and Building Department.
Although the commission held off on hiring an additional officer, it will look into the possibility of hiring a part-time contract code-enforcement employee during turtle season once it reviews what the contract employee’s duties would be.
Commissioner Gene Jaleski said the city of Bradenton Beach has a contract code-enforcement employee who has helped the town keep up with its code demands.
“My neighbors in the Village would like to see a higher level of code enforcement,” Jaleski said. “Anything we can do to help enforce our codes would be a good thing.”