Courtesy of the Sun Sentinel
Posted September 28, 2005
condominium ombudsman now has an office in South Florida, home to more condos
than any other area in the state.
And for the first time, Virgil Rizzo also has a Broward phone number --
954-202-3234 -- so callers no longer have to call Tallahassee to reach him,
something many owners were reluctant to do.
Rizzo's job is to mediate disputes between owners and boards, educate residents
and directors and recommend new laws to the governor and legislative leaders.
His new office is in Fort Lauderdale, at 1400 W. Commercial Blvd., in the
state's North Broward Regional Service Center,
It has a large conference room so feuding owners and directors can face each
other across a big table.
Rizzo can also be contacted via e-mail at [email protected]
Because he expects a glut of phone calls at first, Rizzo is asking callers to be
patient. Even without the Broward number, Rizzo received 4,000 queries during
the three months ending June 30, according to his quarterly report.
"We try to return calls within 24 hours but because the location is new we
expect a large number so it may take another day," he said. "We'll get
to everyone as soon as possible."
Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Rizzo, a retired physician and lawyer who owns a condo
in Fort Lauderdale, to the newly created post in December. It wasn't until
February, however, that the state first funded the office, providing $103,000.
In May, the Legislature agreed on staffing and a $444,000 yearly budget.
The state budgeted for six people, including Rizzo.
He has an attorney based in Tallahassee to work with state agencies and advise
him. Two paralegals and an administrative assistant are in the new Fort
Lauderdale office and he is awaiting state approval for a clerk-typist.
Gloria Kornahres, 78, has been waiting for Rizzo to get a local phone number so
she can ask him if her board is acting legally when it spends money.
She said her retirement community, which she did not want to identify, is
divided into two factions, one on limited incomes and the other of snowbirds.
The snowbirds, she said, control the board and "they spend like it is all
their money, not mine, and they never take a vote," she said.
As upset as she is, she said couldn't call the ombudsman before because it was
long distance and she must watch every penny.