Manatee County Administration Addresses Inspector General Report

Manatee County Administration Addresses Inspector General Report
Posted on 03/23/2022

MANATEE COUNTY, FL (March 23, 2022) — Following the release of an Investigation Report into allegations of favoritism and misconduct in the former Building and Development Services Department, Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes made it clear that things have changed.

“I did not wait for this report to take action,” he said. “We have already addressed most of these issues.”

Hopes pointed to a Brown Law Consulting Investigation – conducted and delivered in the Fall of 2021 – which found similar issues of concern as the report issued March 22, 2022 by the Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court Division of Inspector General.

“Some safeguards and controls have already been put in place,” said Dr. Hopes – referring to new corrective actions designed to clarify procedures and document quality controls in what is now known as the Development Services Department.

In September, six employees were put on Administrative Leave -- including the Building and Development Services Director – to facilitate both the Inspector General and Brown Law investigations. Code Enforcement was transferred to the county’s Public Safety Department – where chain-of-command accountability is part of the culture.

In January, Courtney De Pol was hired as the new Director of Development Services with a renewed commitment to quality customer service and streamlining policies and procedures to ensure consistency in decision-making. Bill Palmer joined shortly after that as the new Building Division Manager.

“It was clear that we needed to tighten up procedures and policies to better serve our customers,” said Ms. De Pol. “We are doing that every day.”

Training on rules and policies has been reinforced to eliminate ambiguity. The development of formal procedures and standard operating policies have increased accountability in Code Enforcement cases. Continued management oversight and review will ensure potential conflicts of interest are identified and documented. In addition, training sessions on diversity, inclusion and anti-harassment policies have been rolled out to all levels of staff throughout the organization.

“We addressed the concerns effectively… and in a timely manner,” added Dr. Hopes. “We will continue to refine policies and procedures to ensure accountability.”

Watch the news conference.