City making changes after audit points out problems with code enforcement in Lake Worth

LAKE WORTH, Fla. - A  scathing audit bashes Lake Worth's code enforcement division.

It lists problems ranging from falsifying inspection results to never cleaning up nuisance properties.

Lyn Cullen has lived in Lake Worth all her life and now she can't stand what she sees.

"Grass that's up over the windows," Cullen said. "Screens that are missing windows, that are broken out doors, that are hanging on the hinges."

Code enforcement is responsible for cleaning up these type of issues up and internal audit shows they haven't been doing the job they're expected to do.

"We know we have problems and issues," Mayor Pam Triolo said. "Now it's time we address them and make changes."

The audit says the city needs field supervisor positions because right now they don't have any.

It also lists employees not being qualified for the job, nuisance properties never being cleaned up and $41 million in outstanding fines they haven't collected.

"I'm disappointed," Cullen said. "I'm very disappointed. I love this city."

Now the city is taking action.

Mayor Triolo said they've already put in a chronic nuisance ordinance.

They're also going to be enforcing fines to be paid a different way than before.

"These fines will now go on the tax bills," she said. "If they want to sell the property or keep the property they're going to have pay their taxes and that's where the fines will be."

In addition, the city is discussing implementing another ordinance that gives code enforcement more power to deal with vacant homes.

"This is private property we're dealing with. We haven't been able to go on and board up homes the way we've wanted to or take care of overgrown lots," Triolo said. "We didn't have the teeth to do that."

Cullen just hopes their plans actually work.

"I hope that it's a positive thing. I would love to see Lake Worth spring back," Cullen added. "It's a great city. It really is."

Commissioners plan on going over the report and continuing to make changes in their upcoming commission meetings.

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