Ryan: $1.5 Million Broward Board Not Needed?


The Broward County Board of Rules and Appeals (BORA) was formed through a Broward County Charter amendment approximately 40 years ago.  BORA, which is not actually a department of Broward County, was tasked to develop building construction standards for Broward County.

However, after the enactment of the 1998 Florida Building Code, much of what BORA does now is really about costing the residents and businesses money, protecting Broward building officials, and treating our cities as enemies.

It is time to ask – why do we need a Board costing $1,500,00 per year?

A Board Undermined by a Hurricane and Legislation

In 1976, BORA developed the South Florida Building Code.  That was good … at the time.

After Hurricane Andrew, we realized there was an inconsistent patchwork of over 400 different building codes throughout the State.  To correct this problem, the legislature passed the 1998 Florida Building Code, a single, statewide building code system.  The Florida Building Code replaced all the individual codes, including BORA’s South Florida Building Code.

A local board, like BORA, can still impose more stringent requirements by passing amendments. However, most counties throughout Florida do not have a local board, choosing instead to utilize the Florida Building Commission for appeals.

So, in 2013, why do we need a Board of Rules and Appeals?

To Protect Broward Examiners, Inspectors, Chiefs and Building Officials?

BORA severely restricts cities in the hiring of Plans Examiners, Inspectors, Chiefs, and Building Officials.  On top of the stringent State of Florida exams and certifications, BORA then requires experience working locally in high velocity wind zones and a laundry list of additional requirements.

Translation: you gotta get BORA’s permission to work in this town and you have to be from Broward.

As a result, a “good old boy” network is perpetuated.  Cities cannot hire from outside.  Resumes received from the next generation throughout the State must be discarded because of the BORA’s protectionist philosophy.

But does BORA even have legal authority to certify building officials?

Florida Statute Section 553.73 empowers BORA to make amendments to the Florida Building Code.  However, there are NO provisions addressing certification or qualifications of building officials in the Florida Building Code.  Instead, building officials are certified by the State pursuant to Florida Statutes Sections 468.601-633.  So, maybe BORA is pre-empted and this has been illegal all along?

A Revenue Source Diverting Monies from Cities, Residents and Businesses?

The Board is funded by a “68 cents per $1,000 dollars of construction value” surcharge on all building permits issued in Broward County.  Last year, Sunrise collected $100,000 from residents and businesses to hand over to BORA.

Despite challenging times, the Board is actually projecting a revenue increase for FY 2013 of $500,000 over FY 2010 collections of license and fee charges on our residents and businesses.

Bizarrely, on an upcoming Agenda, 3 BORA staff, responsible for road-blocking cities from hiring part time building officials, are actually being recommended for retroactive bonuses!

To Impose BORA’s Will on Cities and Communities?

BORA’s Amendments to the Florida Building Code make it challenging for new businesses most familiar with the State-wide Florida Building Code.

Sometimes BORA overturns decisions by a city, only to have that decision create havoc.  The reputation of the BORA staff is to be as difficult as possible with cities, and to make up the rules as they go along.

Repeal BORA through Charter Amendment?


Some question whether or not the Board has the legal authority under Florida Law to impose hiring restrictions on personnel who are qualified by stringent State standards.  Perhaps it is time for legal action to stop the application of protectionist policies?

If BORA persists in their hiring restrictions on otherwise qualified building personnel, then the time has come to thank them for their service and close this part of Broward history through another voter approved Charter Amendment.

(Michael J. Ryan, mayor of Sunrise since 2010, is a trial lawyer)


14 Responses to “Ryan: $1.5 Million Broward Board Not Needed?”

  1. Vernon says:

    This needs to be addressed immediately. Mayor Ryan is one of the true public servants I believe we have to point out this waste of money.

  2. Two Tone says:

    Any added cost of construction permits holds back our Real Estate and Construction and must be done away with.

  3. Vivi says:

    This is a great example of wasteful bureaucracy at the County level. This board is taxing construction and only providing roadblocks for city officials to hire the most qualified inspectors/building officials. I agree that eliminating this board is good policy for Sunrise and Broward County residents. Hat tip to Mayor Ryan for bringing this good ol’ boy system into “the Sunshine”.

  4. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Look in the mirror, Mayor. The City of Sunrise is far worse than BORA when taxpaying Sunrise residents are applying for construction-related permits. Your little hiring problem is absolutely trivial compared to what your organization routinely inflicts on the residents of Sunrise.

  5. In your own backyard says:

    Ryan why don’t you focus on the over spending and budget issues in your own city before you point fingers at another entity

  6. BCDevelopment says:

    Spot on Mayor Ryan….This group of dead wood has been obstructing efficiency improvements in the system and costing the public money and time for far too long…those of us on the private development side are tired paying the price for outdated and inept public service…Thanks for calling them out.

  7. Sunrise Resident says:

    And while you are at it, please get rid of the Resource Recovery Board and their directors huge salary. Another totlly unneccesary board.

  8. Real Deal says:

    The argument to abolish is strongly made. There is no need for this board or for the county to collect any funds for projects that occur in cities.

  9. Lamberti is garbage says:

    Why do we need a nine person County Commission? That is a waste of money since all municipalities have their own anyway.

  10. just saying says:

    Plans examiners and inspectors are required to be approved by BC BORA. Sunrise is advertising for a Plans Examiner right now. They have a lock on all hirees here in the county and at each municipality. As a holder of 3 state licenses, and 25+ years construction experience here in Broward (pre-Andrew)I have seen BORA overturn rulings indiscriminately. When the state FBC adopted the HVHZ (where applicable and adopted in other FL counties besides Dade and Broward) BORA could have been eliminated, along with the redundant county bldg. dept. offices. Its a power grab/money grab by county and county employees fighting any streamlining. And since the FBC is performance based, as opposed to prescriptive (the old SFBC) once the licensed professional seals those docs, its a done deal that could only be challenged by duly licensed peers.

    Thank you for exposing this ‘waste’ of tax dollars.

  11. John Fusaro says:

    You can put the burden on the contractors to get an inspection and final through the private sector. Require an architect or engineer to certify the job. When hurricane Andrew devasted the area this was common. This could potentially save thousands and boost the local construction industry.

  12. just saying says:

    the design professional who signed and sealed the CD’s must still certify that it was built in conformance. and the small stuff, either by sq. footage or cost, has no s&s drawings as code allows (see ‘Repair’ in the “existing building” code volume. the contractors or homeowners (if owner builder) don’t want to pay for the licensed services whether upfront or back end. And we don’t want to have to come in at back end for these kinds of clients, who don’t want to pay.

  13. State G.C. says:

    I agree with Just Saying.As a General Contractor of 25 years in Broward & Dade county you learn the deal pretty quickly. Plan reviewer or field inspector comes up with their own interpretation of the code with caveat that we can appeal to BORA. Project comes to a screeching halt. You learn to take your lumps & eat the costs and move on so you can keep working. Time this county charade ended. Imagine what other needless boards and divisions are out there bleeding us dry!!

  14. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    @Lamberti is garbage

    Is it really possible for someone (aka you) to be that high and yet still comment?