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Date of Issue: July 16, 2008

Anna Maria building official to cost $130,000 annually

Just a little more than a year after Anna Maria Mayor Fran Barford dismissed building official Kevin Donohue and his $90,000-plus annual salary as a cost-cutting move, Barford told city commissioners at their July 10 meeting that she now prefers to pay $130,000 per year for a full-time, out-sourced building official.

Barford said she wants to change the current contract with M.T. Causley Inc. for a part-time building official that costs the city $52,000 yearly to a $130,000 annual contract, more than double the current cost.

The mayor said that with the many responsibilities of the building official — including the community-rating system and flood-plain management — a full-time official makes sense. In addition, building department revenues are on the increase and this will defray some of the increased contract price.

Current building official Bob Welsh has done an excellent job with the public and contractors, she said, and city residents “deserve and need” his services and expertise full-time.

Under the proposed annual contract, Causley will still provide benefits to Welsh, including transportation, workers compensation, liability, communication and photography equipment, a vehicle and health insurance.

Causley would receive $2,500 per week for a 40-hour week under the proposed contract, while any work after 5 p.m. or on Saturday would be billed at one-and-a-half times the hourly rate of $62.50 per hour. For work on Sunday and holidays, Welsh would be paid at double the hourly rate.

Commissioners Duke Miller and Jo Ann Mattick, who were both absent from the meeting, sent letters to the mayor endorsing the proposal.

Businessman Mike Coleman gave a “thumbs up” to the proposal, saying it was a “pleasure” to work with Welsh and receive prompt and courteous answers.

Commission Chairman John Quam scheduled a final vote on the contract for the commission’s July 24 meeting.

Barford said the idea to make the position full-time had “been on the back burner for about a year, but the time had come” when a part-time official was not meeting the needs of the city.

In other business, the commission again tackled the issue of whether to match zoning in the city with the future land-use map.

City attorney Jim Dye explained that property owners traditionally request the city to change zoning.

He explained that there are only two locations in the city where zoning and land-use are inconsistent: the newly approved retail-office-residential areas along Gulf Drive and the six lots on the northwest corner of the Pine Avenue-Bay Boulevard intersection.

Dye reiterated that the land-use designated by the FLUM takes precedence over the current zoning. Some sections of the city code may match what can be built in existing zones, while some might not, and some might overlap. But no development order can be inconsistent with the comp-plan, he added.

“I still don’t get it, said Coleman, who owns the six lots at Pine and Bay. He suggested it would be easier for the commission to simply rezone all those areas to match the FLUM.

Miller has previously agreed that this would eliminate any confusion where a property owner might read the city land-development regulations for commercial zoning and believe a certain structure could be built, not realizing that the zoning is inconsistent with the FLUM.

Quam agreed to place that issue and a discussion of the site-plan review procedures on the agenda for an Aug. 21 combined meeting of the commission-planning and zoning board.

City clerk Alice Baird noted that there appears to be a “municipal code error” regarding the recently adopted site-plan review procedures.

The code language says the commission approves site plans, but Baird and the commission were certain that was changed in the ordinance passed July 26, 2007, that gave most final site-plan review approval to the P&Z board.

“We need to get it right,” Barford said.

Dye allayed any fears that the city and P&Z board had been in error the past year, noting that the ordinance governs procedures, not how the municipal code reads.

Commissioners also discovered another potential muni-code error in the sign ordinance when code enforcement officer Gerry Rathvon noted that the ordinance makes no mention of political signs.

Commissioner Christine Tollette, however, said she was certain that language regarding political campaign signs was added to the ordinance, and her fellow commissioners agreed.

As the ordinance reads now, said Rathvon, most signs need a permit. Tollette, along with Quam and Commissioner Dale Woodland, believed that had been changed and directed Baird to find the minutes of the meeting that changed the sign ordinance.

The commission also heard a presentation from Florida Power & Light about how the city could become “green” by using environmentally friendly procedures and products that also save the city money. Commissioners referred the matter to the environmental education and enhancement committee to establish “guidelines” for the city to become greener.