PLANT CITY — Police officials will soon get help dealing with leaks.
Commissioners on Monday are expected to vote on whether to hire a contractor to repair the police department's aging, cracked roof.
The leaky roof has vexed officials for a couple of years and forced maintenance crews to place buckets in the ceiling to catch drips.
The problem has worsened over time and lately the leaks have sprung up indiscriminately around the 67,000-square-foot building at 1 Police Place.
"There are multiple areas around the building where we have small plastic buckets sitting right on the top side of the ceiling tiles," Sgt. Tray Towles said.
"Obviously, we have to check those buckets to keep them from filling and becoming too heavy," he said.
Officials are hoping to fix the problem before the drips damage computers and other equipment. So far that hasn't happened.
Commissioners are expected to hire Tecta America West Florida LLC in their Monday meeting.
The repair is budgeted at $450,000 and would last about a month, city purchaser Kevin Orth said. Officials want it done before the worst of the rainy season.
Officials say the old synthetic covering has dried and cracked under years of intense Florida sun, allowing water to penetrate.
Rolled out in 3-foot strips, the covering was original to the building when constructed in the mid 1990s as a car refurbishment center for Auto Nation.
The city bought the structure and two nearby smaller buildings — currently the welcome center and fleet maintenance division — for $2.9 million and moved in April 2005 after a $6 million renovation mostly to the interior.
The leaks popped up five years later, first at the front of the building. They've worsened over time and seem more problematic where the structure transitions from one level to another.
"We've been able to patch it, but then the sun gets to it," said Assistant City Manager and former police Chief Bill McDaniel. "It's starting to show its age."
The department's training room and administrative offices are hardest hit, but the leaks can spring up in different places and at different times depending on the storm.
"For the most part, it has been the heavier storms," Towles said.
Eric Chambers, an estimator at Tecta America, said the company plans to install Thermoplastic PolyOlefin, or TPO, a synthetic, rubber-like material that will be adhered to the old roof to form a membrane. The product has been around for 20 years and is common on flat roofs.
The Police Athletic League in North Tampa and Lakeland-Linder Regional Airport have TPO roofs, he said.
Mark Emery, superintendent and fleet coordinator at the city's General Services Division, said the Sweetbay at 205 W Alexander St. uses TPO as well.
TPO comes with a 20-year warranty and is light-colored to deflect light, so it should also help with energy savings, he said.
"We did a lot of research on this product," Emery said.
Rich Shopes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 661-2454.