Rockwood says no to ex-official for bldg. duties

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By Cindy Simpson

A former Rockwood City Council member will not be taking over part-time building inspector duties.

Vice Mayor Peggy Evans passed on a vote to hire Harold Ishman for $30 an hour.

“To pay what could be paid out on this is an enormous amount of money,” Evans said, “and we’re trying to save money every way that we can.”

Council members Mike Freeman and Bill Thompson voted against the motion, while council members Jason Jolly, Pete Wright and Jane Long voted in favor of it.

“I would just hope that everyone doesn’t really get caught up on this dollar amount,” Jolly said. “You know each inspection is going to take different amounts of times. Some inspections aren’t going to take an hour or 10 hours. Some of them will.”

He added, “I know that dollar figure is what has some people upset, but I just don’t really — if you sit back and think about it, you are probably going to be saving some money in the long run.

Evans, however, countered there is no real need for an inspector right now because no houses are being built.

“It’s Christmas, and I don’t see a lot of building going on right now,” Thompson added. “So I don’t see a lot of urgency to hire a building inspector.

Rockwood Fire Chief Mike Wertz has temporarily served as the city’s building inspector since Jim Hines’ retirement in August.

“He can do it until next July,” Evans said. “I think that will give us plenty of time to reassess the situation and see how much probability that we are going to have in growth and new businesses coming in here that is going to be building and things that needs to be done.”

Evans again advocated for the county to take over Rockwood building inspections. The county takes its fees from the property owner.

“Now also this county has I think 10 — I don’t know how many — building inspectors,” she said.

“They will come in, inspect anything we have, and when the inspection is done if it is my house they are inspecting, I pay them,” Evans added.

“That way, the city is not out a penny. We don’t lose anything.”

Evans said Ishman would make more than $200 a day if he worked an eight-hour day at the $30-per-hour rate.

She also pointed out that the city has fallen into the trap of hiring people that aren’t certified and paying for their schooling.

Ishman, a licensed contractor and electrician, is not a certified building inspector.

Hines, who formerly served as both building inspector and city recorder, left both positions before returning as a contracted building inspector. He abandoned the post again in August.

Mayor James Watts said he looked into a part-time person because it was what he believed the City Council asked for.

He said Ishman would be good for the city, and he was the only person he talked to willing to consider part time.

“Over the last several months I’ve talked to a number of people,” the mayor said. “Most of them are really not interested in doing it on a part time basis. We have to find somebody in the position to do so.”

Watts is against using the county building inspection services because the city would lose what can potentially be a great deal of revenue from the inspections.

“Very honestly, as long as I’m mayor I do not intend to move toward having the county to do our building inspections because then the city loses control of writing permits,” he said.

“We lose our negotiating power when we bring someone in,” the mayor added. “For example, we were working with a business that the building permit was $1.5 million and that can be a negotiating part — as long as you control the front end of the building part of it.

“If the county did it, then not only would they be aware of what we’re doing in the way of recruiting business but they have no obligation to work with us on anything, any reductions in that amount at all,” Watts said.

Watts also pointed out that Wertz is not in the process of becoming a certified building inspector, which is required of the position.  

“I do not want to see the city of Rockwood in the position that we’re ready to do something and we don’t have someone on the payroll that can help us move forward,” he added. “I’m telling you, if we get caught without a building inspector, you are not going to be building houses, you’re not going be bringing business in, you’re not going to be bringing industry in.

“That is the point we’re moving toward if we don’t try to do something to fill the vacancy,” Watts said.