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Another departure at Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board

The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board is located in a Largo office complex.

SCOTT KEELER i Times

The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board is located in a Largo office complex.

Amid ongoing scrutiny at the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, another investigator has left the agency.

Paul Roberts retired Thursday, the second investigator to leave since late April.

"It was time to retire," Roberts said Friday, declining to comment further.

Interim executive director Gay Lancaster declined to comment.

The board's investigators look into complaints against contractors. The agency is down to one investigator who searches for construction violators.

The latest departure compounds the agency's woes from declining revenues as fewer fines have been collected in the past year.

The agency operates solely on what it raises in license fees and fines from contractors. County officials have told the agency it must somehow raise revenue to stay in the black.

The licensing board is under so much financial distress that it has been forced to siphon nearly $400,000 out of its reserves just to stay afloat in recent months. Last year it had an annual budget of $1.8 million.

The governing board, a mix of public officials and private contractors, are scheduled to receive a financial update on Tuesday, records show.

Last month, Anthony DeBernardi resigned after being accused of threatening two people with a baseball bat during a road rage incident on Tampa Road.

DeBernardi pulled out his licensing board badge during the confrontation, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, even though he is not a sworn law enforcement officer.

The agency itself has come under scrutiny after a series of Tampa Bay Times reports raised questions about how it treats residents, disciplines contractors and adheres to the law. The agency is now under new management and is being investigated by a grand jury and the Pinellas County Office of the Inspector General.

Longtime executive director Rodney Fischer resigned Jan. 31 after a series of Times articles raised questions about the way he ran the agency and clashed with his employees and butted heads with county officials during his tenure.

 

[Last modified: Friday, May 19, 2017 10:52am]

    

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