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Longboat Key signs magistrate for code enforcement

Retired lawyer served Sarasota as assistant county attorney for 17 years.

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  • | 8:01 a.m. June 6, 2019
Milan Brkich
Milan Brkich
  • Longboat Key
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By the end of September, Longboat Key’s Code Enforcement Board — made up of seven volunteer members selected by the Town Commission — will be phased out in favor of a special magistrate.

The decision, made in June 2018 as part of other changes in how the town handles code enforcement issues, was punctuated this week with agreement to terms with Milan Brkich, a retired lawyer who spent 17 years as an assistant county attorney for Sarasota.

Town Commissioners this week unanimously signed off on a three-year contract with Brkich, paying him $275 an hour for a minimum of two hours for code enforcement meetings or hearings. In addition to the three-year contract, the possibility of two one-year extensions was included.

Brkich will not be an employee of the town and serves at the pleasure of the Town Commission.

"He doesn't answer to me, he doesn't answer to (Town Manager) Tom (Harmer," said Town Attorney Maggie Mooney, adding the town will be working through the summer in making a series of administrative adjustments to launch the new form of code enforcement. Mooney said Brkich will assume the same duties and quasi-judicial responsibilities of the Code Enforcement Board. Appeals of his decisions would go straight to Circuit Court, not the Town Commission or other town entity.

Brkich retired from Sarasota County in 2017 after a 34-year career in the legal profession. In addition to his work in the County Attorney’s office in Sarasota, he served in a similar capacity in Charlotte County. Harmer, formerly the County Administrator for Sarasota before coming to Longboat Key in 2017, worked directly with Brkich at the county level.

According to a town memo from Planning, Zoning and Building Director Allen Parsons to Town Manager Tom Harmer, the intention in making the switch to a magistrate is designed to “promote, protect and improve the health, safety and welfare of the town’s citizens by providing an equitable, expeditious, effective and inexpensive method of enforcing town codes and ordinances.’’

Anyone in receipt of a citation from the town — much like a traffic ticket — has the right to challenge the assertion they broke local rules. That challenge, instead of going to the Code Enforcement Board, will now be assigned to the special magistrate.

In the summer of 2018, the town launched the ability for code enforcement officers to directly issue citations in the case of turtle-nesting violations, short-term rentals, unapproved businesses or construction restrictions.


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