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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Much discussion, little action in Bradenton Beach

"Merry Christmas."

That was the wish from the Bradenton Beach City Commission last week to a packed house at its last regular meeting before the holidays.

And city staff may have received an early holiday gift from Vice Mayor Anna O'Brien when she said, "There are no employees here whose jobs are in jeopardy."

In the five weeks since three new commissioners took office, the city's attorney and planner have been fired, two members of the planning and zoning board were removed from their positions, and the building official has resigned.

All department heads had been placed on a 90-day probation

"City employees have been so stressed by all of the negative publicity generated in the press, and we would very much like to give them a well-deserved holiday break and let them know how much we appreciate their patience and cooperation, too," O'Brien said in a Dec. 18 e-mail.

Commissioners officially accepted Building Official Bob Welch's resignation, which is effective Jan. 2. Welch resigned earlier this month, saying that "actions by public officials have made it impossible for me to continue working for the city."

"We wish you well," O'Brien said to Welch, "and hope you don't take any of this personally."

Commissioners heard a presentation by Holmes Beach Treasurer Rick Ashley regarding that city stepping in to handle building official matters in Bradenton Beach until the city retains another building official.

Ashley said Holmes Beach could aid Bradenton Beach for "60 to 90 days" for a fee.

O'Brien, who was chairing the meeting in the absence of Mayor John Chappie, suggested the matter be postponed until Chappie could finalize the agreement, which commissioners and Ashley agreed to.

Commissioners also agreed to postpone discussion on a proposal by Ric Gatehouse to create a Web site for Bradenton Beach.

The matter of collecting files and documents from former City Attorney Alan Prather was a "voluminous" task, according to interim City Attorney Chuck Webb, and a more detailed status report would be forthcoming after the first of the year, Webb said.

Commissioners did agree to appoint Jo Ann Meilner to the city's planning and zoning board, and entered into an agreement with Webb for him to handle legal matters for the city on an interim basis at an hourly rate of $125.

Commissioners also agreed that any revenue generated from a possible half-cent sales tax increase coming to the city would be earmarked for stormwater improvements, streets and roads, new construction within city hall, or police vehicles. Voters are expected to decide on implemenation of the additional countywide half-cent sales tax in a March special election.

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