Sunday, November 19, 2017
News Roundup

Largo building official resigns after series of problems

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LARGO — The city's building official has resigned following a string of problems, including one that put Largo's Building Division on a local television news program.

Ken Andrews signed a severance agreement with the city on Dec. 4, his last day at work. He will be paid until the end of December.

Andrews, 64, has worked for Largo since 2004. Since March 2007, he has run the Building Division, which oversees building inspection and code enforcement with a full-time staff this year of about 18 and a budget of $1.5 million.

Andrews did not return a call for comment. Community Development director Carol Stricklin, Andrews' boss, said the resignation was a "mutual agreement."

"We are looking for a change in leadership in the division," said Stricklin, who declined to speak in detail about Andrews. His personnel file shows several instances this year when Stricklin had problems with his job performance.

In Andrews' last evaluation, filed in April, Stricklin chided him for lagging in implementing "business-friendly" changes to the division. Stricklin also told Andrews to improve his writing skills and stop handing off duties to others.

In August, Stricklin wrote a memo to Andrews criticizing the division's lack of a written policy for staffers who handle financial transactions, such as taking payments from customers.

In October, Stricklin gave Andrews a written reprimand for submitting a memo with grammatical errors for a City Commission meeting that, Stricklin wrote, did not answer questions commissioners had asked.

Then came November, a bad month for Largo's Building Division.

On Nov. 12, Andrews was given a five-day unpaid suspension for approving incorrect timecards, including an 80-hour timecard for a woman who had not worked an hour during that pay period. Andrews showed a "pattern of negligence," Stricklin wrote.

The next week, local television station WFLA aired a story about a Largo inspector who approved a roof without actually inspecting it. A resident's home security camera caught inspector Glenn Hall walking past a ladder Sept. 26 but not climbing up it to get a better look at the roof of the townhome at 3030 Conifer Drive.

Stricklin called the roof-inspection-that-wasn't an "isolated incident" that was not indicative of a widespread problem. Hall was correct not to climb the ladder without another person present, Stricklin said, but he should have returned and completed the inspection when someone else was there.

Hall's bosses in the Building Division found out about the inspection Oct. 1 and gave him verbal counseling. Stricklin, however, did not find out about the incident until the television cameras arrived at City Hall in late November. She was dismayed to find no written record of the discipline.

"There was not adequate documentation," said Stricklin.

Andrews' salary was $81,785 this year, according to city records.

Assistant building official Bill Ondulich will take over as acting building official, Stricklin said, and city management will start recruiting a permanent replacement in January.

City Manager Mac Craig declined to go into detail about the issues with Andrews.

"He did some good work here," Craig said. "He just let some things go he shouldn't have."

Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Will Hobson can be reached at (727) 445-4167 or whobson@tampabay.com. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

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