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Pasco County officials add watchdog system to prevent another Olympus Pools

County says check and balance system will help protect homeowners
Olympus pools
Posted at 6:07 PM, Sep 16, 2021

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — Pasco Homeowner Robin Maltenfort is one of the hundreds of Pasco homeowners stuck for months with a dirt pit in her back yard after hiring Olympus Pools in summer 2020. Robin and her husband say it cost them $25,000 to finish the job that Olympus Pools started last year.

According to permit data, Olympus Pools left about 400 projects undone when they shut down in July. Many homeowners were stuck figuring out how to finish the projects on their own.

Pasco County says it is now taking steps to ensure there is never another Olympus Pools-type scenario.

I-Team Investigator Jackie Callaway asked the county earlier this month what was being done to ensure something like what happened with Olympus Pools doesn’t happen again.

A county spokesperson responded in an email stating: “Following the issues involving Olympus Pools, Pasco is continuing this proactive approach by tasking a dedicated team to review the following:

  • Number of expired permits per contractor
  • Regular permitting system reports identifying expired permits
  • County process to review customer complaints involving contractors
  • Potential penalties for contractors who don’t comply”

Back in April Pasco County Deputy Building Official Anthony Mastracchio told the I-Team the county could not stop the contractor from obtaining permits. But Pasco County’s ordinance does give building officials the authority to stop the company from pulling permits under certain conditions including six-month delays in inspections.

ABC Action News asked construction attorney Jason Lambert for his take on the Pasco ordinance. “There are ways Pasco County can stop a contractor from pulling permits though usually, it requires a certain amount of time to pass with no inspections being called in on active permits,” Lambert said.

But in the case of Olympus Pools, the company often used a private third party to inspect their work, which is allowed by law.

“Typically the third parties that are hired are required to be an engineer or some other sort of independent inspection service,” Lambert said.

Those independent inspections may have kept the company off Pasco County's radar when customers began experiencing chronic delays in their projects.

Pasco County has also offered to assist Olympus Customers with switching their permits into their names or the name of another contractor.

Robin Maltenfort says she’s happy to hear about the changes even though it is too late in her case. “I think that's great,” she said. “[T]he county needs to watch these contractors to make sure they are completing projects.”

State regulators reached an agreement with Olympus Pools’ owner James Staten in July requiring that he surrender his license and pay a $1.4 million fine before applying for another contractor license. The state-approved 150 customers for reimbursement from Florida’s Construction Recovery Fund. But a cap of $150,000 for the entire Olympus Pool case will mean pennies on the dollar for many of the company’s customers.

See the recovery fund claim form here.