Croteau wins the job after serving as interim county building official

She was one of 14 people who applied for the position, the News Leader learned

Kathleen Croteau. Photo courtesy Sarasota County
Kathleen Croteau. Photo courtesy Sarasota County

Interim Sarasota County Building Official Kathleen Croteau will be able to remove “interim” from her title: On Jan. 28, county staff offered her the job on a regular basis.

Croteau, 50, was one of 14 people who applied for the position and one of only four asked to interview for the job, county spokesman Jason Bartolone told The Sarasota News Leader. None of those other three was a Sarasota County resident, Bartolone added. Two were from Manatee County, he told the News Leader.

Her salary was set at $89,000, Bartolone said in response to a News Leader question.

In public comments to the Sarasota County Commission in November and again in December, the previous county Building Official, Greg Yantorno — speaking as president of the Building Official Association of Florida — criticized county staff for posting the job with a salary mid-point range from $55,556.80 to $73,694.40. He said he feared no qualified person would apply for the position.

However, Tom Polk, director of the county’s Planning and Development Services Department, countered that, telling the County Commission staff had the ability to offer more money, “depending upon the qualifications” of the person selected for the job.

Yantorno’s remarks came as the county board discussed changing requirements for the position to make them conform to state standards. Both Yantorno and another former Sarasota County building official, Paul Radauskas, were urging the board to maintain the level of experience that was part of the County Code.

Croteau had been serving as interim building official since late September 2015, following Polk’s Sept. 21, 2015 firing of Yantorno, who was building official for five years.

Tom Polk. File photo
Tom Polk. File photo

Polk terminated Yantorno’s employment the same day County Administrator Tom Harmer and the County Commission received a report on an audit by the Office of the Sarasota County Clerk of Court showing that a number of re-inspection and partial inspection fees, totaling about $7.4 million, were not collected during the 2014 fiscal year.

(Additionally, in his December 2014 evaluation of Yantorno, Polk wrote that he was surprised to discover insufficient accounting for more than 3,000 permits issued during the year. That review also cited the “practice of re-inspection costs … being discretionally waived at an unknown cost to the County. Upon further review by the Office of the County Attorney,” the evaluation continues, “this practice was found to be illegal.”)

Croteau was hired in 2011 as deputy building official.

She is treasurer of the Gulf Coast Chapter of the Building Officials Association of Florida and is licensed as a state building code administrator, building plans examiner, building inspector and fire safety inspector/plans examiner, Bartolone told the News Leader in November 2015.

During Special Magistrate hearings on matters related to Bob’s Boathouse — which operated for less than a year on South Tamiami Trail — Yantorno spoke of his confidence in Croteau’s abilities as his deputy.

Prior to joining the Sarasota County staff, Croteau worked for seven years with the City of Cape Coral as a building/fire plans examiner, site and development coordinator and deputy building official, Bartolone said in November 2015. From 1989-2004, Bartolone continued, she served as president of a structural steel and ornamental metals business.

Greg Yantorno. File photo
Greg Yantorno. File photo

The county building official is responsible for the administration and coordination of the Florida Building Code, including permit reviews and inspections for the Planning and Development Services Department, a Jan. 28 county news release noted.

“We’re excited to have someone of Kathy’s extensive background and experience in both the public and the private sector working in this role,” County Administrator Harmer said in the news release. “Kathy was selected after successfully competing in an extensive search process to fill this important position. As the current interim building official, Kathy’s appointment would allow for a smooth transition as we move forward.”

“The building official serves a key role in Sarasota County, especially as we see increased building activity following the economic recession,” noted Polk in the release. “Kathy is well suited to provide and promote the kind of excellent customer service that Sarasota County prides itself on.”