BRADENTON -- At Manatee County's Tuesday Board of County Commissioner work session, there were three main issues: Alarm Ordinance, Workers Compensation Expenses, and Historic Preservation. Some days there is a few bumps in the road, some days it's a smooth ride, Tuesday it was the latter.
The Alarm Ordinance presentation was given by Major Dennis P. Dummer. He said there needs to be some modifications. Dummer spoke of how the actual amount of responses has fallen from 16,425 in 2004, to 10,408 in 2010, and that the number false alarms stayed proportionate to those numbers.
Most of the discussion was related to the cost for responses. The first two responses are free, but then a charge of $25 for the third, and they can climb up to as high as $400. The largest concern of the Manatee Sheriff's Dept. was to get some control over the amount of false alarms that mostly occur from poor maintenance. The subsequent amount of $400 is to coerce owners into fixing broken equipment, instead of letting officers continue to respond.
Dr. Craig Trigueiro, M.D. who has had repeated trouble with his system and contested the new ordinance, suggested "they can it and start over." He identified himself as a "frequent flyer" in the alarm response field, referring to all of the conversations about his alarm calls he has had with law enforcement. On almost 10 occasions, the sheriff's office has responded to the Brandenton Family Medical Center's alarm.
The new technology that puts alarms on A/C units of buildings, like the system Trigueiro has, have additional equipment that can be problematic for law enforcement. The recent thefts of A/C units have soared. Commissioners were sympathetic to Trigueiro, who says he has spent many hundreds of dollars to improve his system and claims criminal attempts were the reason his alarm went off so frequently. He feels for that reason, he should not have to pay. He said that his enormous amount of property taxes should cover that. Commissioners said they weren't ready to change the ordinance until more information suggests it's necessary.
Next, was Workers Compensation. Currently, the county's insurance program is self funded with tax dollars. Manatee County's agent, Michael Terrell, gave the presentation along with Deputy County Attorney, Jim Cooney. They said that when the county retains council for defense issues and has an in-house adjuster, there is a lot of money saved. Terrell said there are some administrative costs for what is done by a third party for billing and records. That comes to around $125,000 annually. The payout for lost of life is $150,000.
The BOCC, Manatee Sheriff's office, Supervisor of Elections, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Tax Collectors, The Metropolitan Planning Organization and Volunteers are all covered by the plan. Terrell said, there has been a savings of $3 million over the past three years. He did a comparison to other counties, and displayed the advantages to being self insured. To say Commissioners were pleased would be putting it lightly.
Last but not least, Historical Preservation; Building and Development Services Department Director John Barnott and Cathy Slusser from Manatee County Historical Resource Department, played all of the right songs. One good idea after another that reminded everyone in the room why it is so good to live in Manatee County. They displayed the large list of historical sites that have, are and will be preserved to enhance Manatee's cultural history. Barnott pushed the idea of how important it would be to have a registry of all of the historical properties and buildings in the county. This has also been a project of Chips Shore, who is Manatee County Clerk of the District Court and Comptroller.
The combined talent and commitment of these three, totally wooed those watching and listening. Paying respects to what can't be replaced doesn't happen without feeling proud. I could fill the pages with what they shared with us, and I will this weekend in a special report; Manatee Preserved. I'll be telling you, but they, their crew and the leadership that is committed to making this happen, did the real work. It takes a lot more strength to hold back a wrecking ball, then it does to let one swing.