A city of Anna Maria employee has been fired for putting residents in jeopardy of losing their flood insurance discount.
According to Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy, building official Jimmy Strickland was let go during a city commission meeting on Nov. 30 after he failed to file accurate paperwork to ISO, a company that helps communities with the National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System process.
The system grades cities on how much they have done to mitigate flooding and gives a corresponding flood insurance discount. Before the changes go into effect next May, Anna Maria was listed as class 5, meaning it receives a 25 percent discount. That translates to $625,771 in savings, according to data from the Florida Department of Emergency Management.
Personally, Murphy said he paid $700 a year for his insurance. But there are other residents who could be paying $10,000.
According to a letter from ISO specialist Craig Carpenter, the information he requested of Strickland last December was incomplete or incorrect. That would mean Anna Maria would be recommended as class 10, or a city that doesn’t qualify for any discount.
Murphy said he didn’t find out until Halloween, when he was given 20 days to complete 10 months of work to submit the information.
“The building official never bothered to tell me,” he said. “That I can’t figure out why.”
Murphy told the Bradenton Herald that the city has spent nearly $500,000 this year for mitigation.
Strickland was a contract employee with M.T. Causley and was paid a salary of $125,000. He was at the city for just under three years, Murphy said, and was also the city’s inspector and plans examiner. But it wasn’t the first time his actions got him in the hot seat. Murphy said that in August, Strickland was confronted after he was said to have given someone a building permit for remodeling work that went over FEMA’s rule of reconstruction up to 50 percent of what the building is worth.
Anna Maria isn’t down for the count yet. The city hasn’t heard the status recommendation from ISO or FEMA, but it has the opportunity to appeal if officals believe the decision is incorrect.
“I’m comfortable that this is going to be a happy ending,” he said