One of the few proposed savings in the Bradenton Beach 2012-13 budget was to scale back the billable hours for building official Steve Gilbert.
Commissioner Ric Gatehouse made the proposal as he looked to reduce the city’s $104,000 deficit.
Gatehouse said the hiring of city planner Alan Garrett should reduce Gilbert’s workload, but Gilbert disagreed during the planning department’s July 18 budget meeting at city hall.
“Just to respond to comments about reduced workload, we brought a planner in for the specific task of doing planning,” said Gilbert. “The building official, under the land-development code, still remains as the final sign off, so I still have to do what the planner does. The planner is just to get expertise on planning and zoning.”
Gilbert said if there is a reduction in workload due to hiring a planner, it only means he can focus on the building official workload neglected while also concentrating on planning duties.
“So I wish there were a 20 percent workload reduction and you could see me with my feet up 20 percent of the day,” said Gilbert. “All that’s going to happen is that I’m going to be able to take that time” to address my duties.
Mayor John Shaughnessy said he opposed renegotiating Gilbert’s contract.
“My feeling on being mayor of the city of Bradenton Beach is I don’t have to be an expert on anything,” he said. “Anytime you are in charge of something you want to surround yourself with competent professionals. That’s why we have Steve.”
Gatehouse also recommended that Gilbert’s overtime fees — about $14,000 this year — be reduced by structuring the agendas to avoid his attendance at night meetings.
Commissioners said they rely on staff expertise to make informed decisions, but they would try to limit Gilbert’s night meetings.
“I’m very careful about that,” said Gilbert. “If a meeting doesn’t involve planning and zoning, then I’m not there. That hasn’t been the case very often lately.”
Gatehouse said between limiting night hours and streamlining the permitting process, he would eventually see the reduction he is seeking. The city also is reviewing the permitting process to ease the burden on taxpayers and charge users a fee to cover administrative costs.
Gatehouse said he would withdraw his suggestion, but “I’ll be looking at it again next year,” Gatehouse told Gilbert.
Gilbert’s hours was the only point of contention in the planning department’s $352,741 proposed budget, an increase from $340,057 this year.
Commissioner Gay Breuler motioned to approve the planning budget as presented. Gatehouse seconded the motion, which passed 5-0.
Department budgets finalized
Commissioners also unanimously approved the administration’s $368,858 budget, an increase from $358,617 from this year.
Attorney fees were the main point of contention for Gatehouse, who suggested city attorney Ricinda Perry’s fees could be reduced by limiting her participation in meetings, and preferably during the day.
City clerk Nora Idso said she would check the agenda before meetings and confer with Perry.
Breuler motioned to approve the administration budget as presented. Gatehouse seconded the motion, which passed 5-0.
Commissioners also unanimously approved the community redevelopment agency budget, which “has nothing in it,” said Idso. “All of the money that was in it will be going toward the pier reconstruction project.”
A price for the pier project has not been determined.
Additionally, commissioners approved their $33,050 budget, with $28,000 in salaries split between three commissioners, the vice mayor and mayor.
Commissioners passed all of the department budgets, with the exception of capital improvement projects, which was tabled until July 25 so Idso could include $25,000 for street repairs.
“There is good news,” said Idso. “There is a little more revenue that we got from things like telephone taxes. It’s not a lot, but we’ll take every penny we can get.”
The final budget will be voted on in September after two public hearings. Commissioners will set the tentative millage rate at a meeting at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 25, at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.