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Pasco code compliance manager quits after rebuke, talk of cuts

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County's code compliance manager abruptly resigned after receiving a nasty reprimand and hearing he would likely lose his job.

Dick Ortiz, who oversaw the code enforcement officers who respond to neighborhood complaints, such as high weeds and junk vehicles, said he learned his job would be cut during a 4 p.m. meeting last Friday. Ortiz, 60, filed a terse resignation memo effective at 5 p.m. that day — becoming the most prominent casualty as Pasco makes cuts to handle a budget shortfall later this year.

Chief Assistant County Administrator Michele Baker confirmed Thursday that Ortiz's job was targeted for cutting. The county faces a $31 million drop in tax revenue for its next budget. Every department has to come up with a 15 percent spending reduction — including Ortiz's, where there are supervisors already overseeing the officers in east and west Pasco.

"Lots of jobs are going to be eliminated," Baker said.

Ortiz, a frank, former cop earning $59,300 a year, joined the county four years ago, and leaves two years short of being fully vested for a pension. The county will pay him for his accrued leave time and benefits.

His last performance review had above average ratings, but Ortiz said the tone changed dramatically in January —the same month county officials revealed financial trouble.

His boss, zoning and code compliance administrator Debra Zampetti, ripped him for "inefficiency" and "incompetence" in a Jan. 12 reprimand. She wrote that he lacked adequate knowledge of county codes.

That was just the first half page.

Otherwise, Zampetti criticized Ortiz for undermining her authority, making "false or malicious statements" about her and co-workers and holding a "secret meeting." And failing to follow instructions.

Ortiz called it balderdash.

"She was setting me up," Ortiz said Thursday, calling it "an alibi to start cutting people."

David DeCamp can be reached at ddecamp@sptimes.com or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6232.

Pasco code compliance manager quits after rebuke, talk of cuts 02/19/09 [Last modified: Thursday, February 19, 2009 8:10pm]
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