Pinellas County agency sued over Sunshine Law, meeting notice violations

TampaBayGuardian.Com today filed a lawsuit against the Pinellas Business Technology Services Board (BTS), alleging Sunshine Law violations and other statutory violations. The civil complaint seeks to void three BTS meetings, including tomorrow’s meeting.

BTS head Marty Rose resigned on April 27th amid growing criticism from county administrator Mark Woodard. The problems at BTS have a direct impact on the county’s ability to develop a budget for the 2018 fiscal year, which begins on October 1. County budget staff is two months behind in that process and has no way to make up that time, according to county Office of Management and Budget director Bill Berger.

BTS was created by an interlocal agreement in 2008 in which the county, the sheriff, the clerk of the court and other constitutional officers agreed to share IT resources. The conflict between Woodard and Rose goes back at least two years.

BTS is also plagued by staffing shortages, and an inability to put their hands on $1.5 million in fixed assets, according to the latest inventory.

The lawsuit alleges to failure to include certain statutorily required legal advice in the meeting notices, and too short of a meeting notice (19 hours) for a recent meeting at which an interim director was appointed. There is also a general allegations that notice is not given unless the word “notice” is used, much like in legal notices in newspapers.

TampaBayGuardian.Com tried to convince BTS board chairman Ken Welch to void some the meeting with 19 hours notice, but Welch responded that he was “comfortable that we have met all requirements” after the county attorney’s office rejected the claims of statutory violations. The court will now decide.

As always, the Guardian reports and the readers decide. Please like our Facebook page to find out when we publish our articles.

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