Lawmakers suggest filling codes vacancies

NORWICH – Chenango County Fire and Building Code Division of the Department of Public Health – essentially bankrupt as of today - was given the go-ahead Thursday to fill two vacancies.

Director Marcus Flindt said revenues are off by $26,000 after the first quarter and could drop by as much as half of the $200,000 budgeted for the year. A lack of commercial permits and two less code enforcement officers collecting permits and conducting inspections have put the department in the red.

Acting on a referral from the personnel committee, finance committee members voted 3 to 1 to replace the two, full-time positions and to determine at year’s end the appropriate funding source from which to take the estimated $100,000 needed. Supervisor Dennis Brown, D-Pharsalia, opposed.

Brown also opposed a motion that asked the county’s safety and rules committee to consider raising permit fees to offset expenses.

A referral from safety and rules to consider integrating a codes unit into the county’s budget was not acted upon. Permit fees and inspection charges have supported code enforcement for the past eight years. Three to four officers were on board back in 2001 and 2002, for example, but when large box retailers such as the Super Wal-Mart and Lowe’s came to the area, more building and fire code inspectors were hired. During the same time period, New York state imposed uniform code regulations for all counties that expanded their authority to enforce junk car and other waste disposal regulations.

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