Musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more

Musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more

Fernandina Beach Responds To Criticism Of Building Fees: Local Women Marchers Publicly Parade Their Delusions

When I pointed out last week that building permitting and review fees were almost six times higher in Fernandina Beach than in the county for the exact same commercial properties and more than two times higher for identical residential properties, I received two lengthy responses from the city’s Building Director Stephen Beckman that appeared in last week’s Comment section here.

Local builders and developers refer to Fernandina Beach as “Shakedown City.”

They were  followed by an email from City Commissioner Chip Ross asking if I had any comment on Mr. Beckman’s explanation.  That’s probably because Mr. Beckman copied City Manager Dale Martin and Commissioner Ross, but no other commissioners. Ross is the self-appointed, self-righteous city spokesman, who habitually defends town hall on all issues from the marina and parks and recreation to building codes and vehicle maintenance, among others. He’s a busy fellow with an ambitious agenda.

In Mr. Beckman’s first message, which is available in full in last week’s comment section, he didn’t dispute the disparity in fees. Instead he reinforced my point.

He said that one of the first actions he took as the city’s new building code official was to hire a tax accounting firm to conduct a “fee study” which began in July. He said the study will wrap up sometime the end of this month. How much did the tax study cost and was it put out for competitive bids? What did he ask to be studied?  If the study says the fees are fine what happens? What if the study says they’re too high? Or too low?

A local builder hereabouts thinks the tax study is nothing more than is a plan to cover up the city’s past abuse. He suggests demanding the records for the tax study contract and any other communications pertaining to it i.e. what and who created the demand, what data was provided by the city, etc.?

He says: “As stakeholders we should have had a hand in the study’s methods. This is how we can learn how government creates studies, which allow them to justify their demands for fees. They can blame it on the study when in fact the departments can make demands on the study which will result in distorting the fees on the public/customers.”

“I’ve been around government too long to not smell the swamp here”, he adds. “The firm doing the study can only produce collective data conclusions/recommendations based on the history and baseline data provided by the building department.” Are these gentleman’s suspicions justified?

“The county? We don’t need no stinkin’ county help.”

Local real estate investor, businessman, developer, lawyer and incisive observer, Pat Keogh, is not optimistic saying: “In 20 years I have seen no reaction by Fernandina Beach’s city government to any appeals to improve services or reduce costs. None! Ever!”

In his initial comment to me Mr. Beckman went on  to explain the state’s building code and the city’s adherence to it. He didn’t mention if the state’s building code required refunding for overcharged fees.

In his second message – also available in the comment section – he reiterated his first message and explained how his department was doing everything it could to ensure that fees are fair and equitable as well as timely and efficient. He made the case that the county charges less because it has the volume that the city doesn’t have. OK then, doesn’t that justify outsourcing the city’s function to the county, which the city resides in, thus giving them even more volume and reducing fees even further? It’s the same state and everybody has to abide the same codes. So, what’s the problem?

Neither Mr. Beckman or Commissioner Ross addressed the issue of outsourcing the job to the folks in the county, who do it cheaper and better, abide by the same state law, and who are right across the street. Oh, by the way, in the new budget, the staff for the Building Department that was 7.65 three years ago increases to 12 next year while the workload remains relatively flat.

An engineer who has worked getting permits and reviews from the city’s building and permitting department for many years netted the issue down asking: “Is the County better equipped to perform Building Permitting and Inspections in the City Limits?” or “Is the City using the inflated Building Department fees to fund Pet Projects?”

***

Local Grievance Monger March: About 100 curiously dressed local social-justice warriors carrying hand-painted signs proclaiming their loathing for the U.S. Constitution and their moral superiority in just about every aspect of human existence wandered from Fernandina Beach’s Central Park through downtown last Saturday morning in a comical attempt to rescue the rest of us from our collective ignorance and lead us out of the muck of our insensitivities.

Organized by local activist Sheila Cocchi – who led a larger and similarly confused gathering in January 2017 –  the parade, march, protest or whatever it was, straggled through town much to the bewilderment of ice cream cone-licking tourists, shoppers, store keepers, and motorists who were left mostly chuckling and shaking their heads in puzzled amusement.

The online Fernandina Observer’s Anne Oman objectively and accurately covered the event. Ms. Ohman is a seasoned reporter whose work has appeared in several Washington D.C. newspapers including the Star, Post and Times.

“We are calling this the Women’s March 2.0,” said organizer Cocchi to the Observer. “RBG’s death has made people aware of the issues before the Supreme Court.”

According to the Observer article the Fernandina Beach event was one of more than 400 “sister marches” across the country last Saturday.

Ms. Oman reported that although many of the local participants wore dark blue Biden-Harris tee shirts and/or masks and carried Biden campaign signs, organizer Cocchi stressed that it wasn’t a march for the Biden ticket per se, “but we support his ideas and principles.” She attributed the relatively small size of the crowd compared to the 2017 march both to the pandemic and to the fact that the event was not widely publicized.

A Fernandina Observer photo of last Saturday’s event.

The majority of folks I talked with were unaware of the event and those that were said it was more a curiosity than an illuminating experience. Many individuals in the bizarre contingent were dressed as though they were enduring a humiliating sorority or fraternity initiation ritual or were the brides-to-be in a drunken bachelorette outing gone wrong.

More people attended the latest Trump rally at the corner of Sadler and 14th Street Saturday, October 10, than showed up for the grievance monger gathering that wandered through town last Saturday to proclaim their anti-American psychedelic idiocy and radicalized fury.

Just a few of the more than 100 local folks at the Trump rally.

In stark contrast to the dreary leftist women’s march the Amanda Borghese-led local Trump rallies boasted a collection of smiling, laughing, happy folks waving Trump signs, “support the police” banners, and American flags. They even featured well-known opera singer Mary Aiello performing the national anthem. They were celebrating America not condemning it. Their messages were optimistic and positive, not angry, and venomous.

Thousands of cars passing by the Trump-supporting crowds rolled down their windows and cheered, gave thumbs up signals, and honked their horns in enthusiastic support. The sad sacks straggling through downtown lashing out at America appeared angry and sad, generating only puzzlement and quizzical looks.

“We didn’t want agitators,” Ms. Cocchi told Ms. Oman as she led her small contingent of men, women, kids and domestic pets on their Saturday morning stroll with signs proclaiming their support for abortion, socialism, gender-free public rest rooms, Black Lives Matter, prepubescent transgender rights, and their opposition to guns, something called “systemic racism”, President Trump, the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, among other psychotic causes.

The group was peaceful and had every right to protest or whatever it was they were doing. They didn’t emulate their Portland, Seattle, Chicago, or New York peers by patrolling with baseball bats, Antifa masks, hurling curses, and threatening businesses.

However, this handful of hometown revolutionaries had difficulty attracting an attentive audience for their irrational fear-huckstering messages in Fernandina Beach with its Norman Rockwell backdrop as they ranted against the country that gave them everything including the right to make public spectacles of themselves.

***

Speaking Of Rallies: Another local event that contrasted with last Saturday’s curious women’s group march was an upbeat “Prayer in the Park” session held at sunset near the waterfront Petanque Courts south of the Marina last Sunday evening by an ad hoc group of local ladies including Amanda Borghese.

The roughly 40-minute affair featured brief talks by a handful of blacks and whites, women, and men, espousing patriotic and religious messages to an attentive and enthusiastic crowd of some 70-80 spectators. They heard five-minute inspirational talks by former members of the military, a preacher, a black female entrepreneur, a couple of authors, and participated in the singing of patriotic and spiritual songs, starting with the national anthem sung by opera singer Mary Aiello, and closing with “God Bless America”.

This cheerful group was as enthusiastic in its support of President Trump as the infuriated woman’s marchers were desperately anxious in their support of Joe Biden.

***

Danger! Democrats Ahead: The ignorant statue toppling thugs and loons that are Talibaning effigies of various historical figures instrumental in the founding of the United Sates wouldn’t know Christopher Columbus from Christopher Robin.

They just enjoy smashing government property while Democrat officials in their blue cities stand idly by nodding approvingly and ordering their police to “stand down”.

Given how today’s schools and colleges now focus on racism in America’s history it’s no wonder that the mob assumes any old statue they see is of some irredeemable historic figure.

If Joe Biden is elected President these Antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters and looters will consider that carte blanche to go on a nationwide rampage that will make Alaric and his Visigoth’s 410 A.D. sacking of Rome look like a kindergarten recess. Brace yourselves in the event of that dreadful outcome.

***

Speaking Of Christopher Columbus: “God’s Shadow”, a recent book by Alan Mikhail reveals some little-known facts about Mr. Columbus and his voyages to the New World that I found fascinating.

Rather than exploration, his trips were undertaken to discover more secure trade routes to the Far East thus avoiding the powerful Ottoman Empire’s navy. The spirit of discovery was an element of the voyages undertaken by Columbus and other early explorers of that period such as Portugal’s Henry the Navigator,  but it was secondary to their desire to destroy Islam, convert others to Christianity, and find safer trade routes.

Mr. Mikhail says after Columbus discovered Cuba on one of his voyages he was convinced he was in Japan and actually died believing that he had landed in the Far East.

***

Things I Wish I’d Said:  “Most pro athletes are bilingual. They know English and profanity.” – Gordie Howe

***

Putting The Planned In Parenthood: West Coast columnist, former screenwriter, and L.A. Times humorist, Burt Prelutsky, says that since Planned Parenthood is already set up, that well-funded outfit could simply change its mission from killing babies to preventing babies from becoming the innocent victims of homicidal abortionists.

“There are a number of positive results of my plan,” adds Burt. “Women would no longer have to suffer guilt pangs from having participated in premeditated murder. Doctors would no longer have to be hypocrites who break their Hippocratic Oath each and every time they pick up a scalpel.  Also, the procedure would guarantee that the same woman wouldn’t have to come back a second, third or fourth time.”

***

ACB Revelation: The pictured meme making the rounds recently shows Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett  holding up her now famous notepad. But instead of being blank, it reads: “I have seven children, so I’m used to answering stupid questions all day.”

***

More ACB: Investor, author, professor, pundit and former CEO, Joel Ross, says: “I only watched snippets of the Barrett hearings, but she is brilliant and made fools of the Dems. She even told Klobachar at one point that her question made no sense. She shut down Harris and left Feinstein bumbling. She will make a great justice.”

***

Most Dangerous Dems: Dr. Richard A. Schatz, Research Director of Gene and Cell Therapy at Scripps Clinic, let the world know that 45 of the 50 Governors did not force Covid-19 patients into nursing homes, but five of them, all Democrats, (Cuomo, New York; Wolf, Pennsylvania; Murphy, New Jersey; Newsom, California; Whitmer, Michigan) did. Those five states accounted for 40% of the nation’s fatalities.

***

Things I’m Glad I Never Said: “I never said most of the things I said.” – Yogi Berra

***

Can You Say It Ain’t So Joe? Even during the last debate Joe Biden has not disputed that those are indeed Hunter’s emails.

Hunter Biden has not disputed those are his emails.

The Biden campaign has not disputed those are Hunter’s emails.

Hunter Biden’s signature is on documents saying that the emails on the laptop are his.

The FBI, CIA and Department of Justice say Russia had nothing to do with the emails.

A former business associate of Hunter Biden came out last Wednesday confirming the emails were sent to him and confirming that the “big guy” referenced in the emails is indeed Joe Biden.

Those emails are damning. They expose Joe Biden as a traitor and comparable to a mafia godfather using his crime family to enrich himself.

This is clear evidence that then Vice-President Biden was deeply involved with his son Hunter’s inappropriate association with Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company. President Obama put Biden in charge of this country’s relationship with both China and Ukraine and Biden took his son Hunter on trips to both counties aboard Air Force Two. The younger Biden came home with huge sums of money.

We now know that Biden lied about having any relationship with Burisma or discussing his son’s business relationships with him. We also know that Joe Biden bought a $3 million beach house in Delaware and he now rents a $5 million home in McLean, Virginia that has a rental value of $240,000 annually. How much did Joe Biden (aka “The Big Guy”) get from the Ukraine and China deals and just how much will he sell Oval Office access for if elected?

***

Speaking Of Pandemics: In his book “Innocents Abroad” that made him a household name, Mark Twain, described being fumigated in Lake Como and Italians’ washing habits during his trip to Italy at the height of the 1867 cholera epidemic saying: “It might have been cheaper for them to fumigate foreigners than to buy soap for themselves. I shall try to pray for these fumigating, macaroni-stuffing organ grinders.” Despite his insults he had ample praise for the Italian Dominican friars who cared for the sick and buried the dead regardless of the risk to themselves.

  ***

A Religious Experience: Former Tampa Plant High School classmate Ron Barkesdale sent along the following so don’t blame me:

Sitting by the window of her convent, Sister Barbara opened a letter from home one evening.  Inside the letter was a $100 bill her parents had sent. Sister Barbara smiled at the gesture.

As she read the letter by the window, she noticed a shabbily dressed stranger leaning against the lamp post below.

Quickly, she wrote, “Don’t despair. – Sister Barbara,” on a piece of paper,
wrapped the $100 bill in it, got the man’s attention, and tossed it out the window to him. The stranger picked it up, and with a puzzled expression and a tip of his hat, went off down the street.

The next day, Sister Barbara was told that a man was at the convent door insisting on seeing her.

She went down and found the stranger waiting. Without a word, he handed her a huge wad of $100 bills.

“What’s this?” she asked.

“That’s the $8,000 you have coming Sister,” he replied.

“Don’t Despair paid 80 to 1.”

  • Comment (18)
  • What I haven’t heard from Biden in response to Trump’s allegations is “I am not(wasn’t) President”. Also, Biden said several months ago that he would not bring Trump’s family into the race, unlike Trump with Biden’s family. Do you think all that Trump’s kids have done before and during his Presidency would stand up to scrutiny? We are not electing Biden’s family just as we didn’t elect Trump’s family, we just ended up with the Presidency becoming a family affair.

    • No Peg, the President’s children are not selling access to him to communist countries, and in turn, enacting legislation to benefit those countries, and taking in millions for it. Lesson of the day: take a hammer to your hard drive and buy a new computer.

  • Apparently, Peg did not watch the debate last night. Where Biden threw his former boss under the bus? I’m pretty sure, as in 100% positive, that the President’s entire family and associates have withstood endless “scrutiny”. When your family is funneling millions of dollars to you, as a result of profiting off your position, they become complicit. I guess she didn’t remember them being accused of Russian collusion?

  • Dave, After commenting on your blog last week saying that I just could not vote for Chip Ross, Chip looked up my address in the city records, printed off my proposed property tax letter (sent to every homeowner), and mailed it to me saying that in spite of his tax increase my taxes are going down. (He left off that my homestead exemption with 3 years carry over kicked in this year and was not on 2019 taxes therefore, of course, my overall tax bill is lower.) In actuality, my taxes are going up for the Fernandina Beach, Nassau County, School Board. Mosquito Control for a total of $112.02. I felt the whole “look me up and mail me a city tax document” was a very invasive response from a comment on your blog. I was also complaining about how the city is using his “expertise” instead of the Governor’s task force to determine to make it a crime in the city limits to not wear a mask. He said he had 40+ years of being around infectious people and he follows the advice of “our local health doctor” (we have one of those?) and the Emergency Management Director. Remember how Nassau County ended the mandatory mask policy last month. Does the city have its own Emergency Management Director? I just wanted you to know what happens when Chip Ross is criticized on your blog.

  • Simple economics says that if an equivalent service is available at a lower price, you purchase from that provider.

    The data shows that the County is uniformly less expensive across a range of building types—so City builders/homeowners should have the choice of which permit source to use.

    A responsible next step is for the City to accept County issued permits.

    Given the price disparity, the City Building Dept needs some actual competition to force their cost down.

  • Dave:

    I’ll tell you someone who is really upset about Shakedown City’s approach to studying building fees. That’s my podiatrist. She says she can justify crazy building fees just as good as any “tax accountant” and at half the price.

    Al Mac has it right. I know it’s a radical idea but why not just save the study money and cut a deal with the city’s neighbors across the street to outsource the permit and inspection services to the County. My recent experience in developing an office building in the County is that the County does it a whole lot better and cheaper. In Shakedown City a study is always much preferred to quality, low cost service. Could also try to transfer city building officials to the County as part of the deal. They might be better off too being covered by the Florida Retirement System.

  • Dave
    I live on island but not in the FB City limits, and very glad about that. Love your blog.
    I laugh and cry at the same time. Keep up the good work going after the mini SWAMP downtown. They seem to behave like DC and we know how that turned out. Trump showed up and started shaking the SWAMP tree. Sounds like we need some new leaders in FB to do the same thing.

  • In reading this article then the below comments, it appears a taxpayer made a statement that one of our city commissioners disagreed with. In response that city commissioner, Chip Ross, found it appropriate to mail her tax bill to the disgruntled taxpayer and other residents with a note, that her tax bill was going down. Based on the comment, Chip Ross did not analyze the tax bill to really understand that the tax rate was increasing. I am in shock! 1st, if this is correct, our City commissioners should know if the local tax rates are going up or down, and not use fuzzy math to support their position. Last but not least, I wonder if our city commissioners used our tax paid funds to pay for this mailing in response to a blog response? Or did he pay for this with his own personal funds?
    Either way, it stinks, abuse of taxpayers funds or carrying out a personal vendetta.

  • Chip Ross researched someone who posted a comment on this blog and mailed them a letter?!! WOW ! That is utter insanity and sounds like his old days on Solomons Island Maryland when he got a restraining order taken out against him for drunken and threatening behavior at the tiki bar. He sure hasn’t changed much from his old days!! Chip Ross needs to cool his jets and stop harassing town citizens

  • Some random comments:
    [1] The new website is terrible on a phone. Too narrow and unable to adjust.
    [2] You should rethink your Chip Ross endorsement. Wendall Kalil McGahee, if elected, would likely be ineffective and even a bit ‘lost’ in his first elective office. And easily voted out next time around. And Chip Ross would be out and less able to hurt the city.
    [3] You are starting to write too many words and losing impact. The facts about city fees were too many words. There needs to be a chart that shows county fees for a hotel are $80,000 and for the same work the city charges $455,000. Or a single family home permit of $1,400 county and $2,900 city. Put the detail somewhere else and refer to it. Some of us will want to see the detail but most will want the summary and conclusions.
    [4] And two columns back you wrote about “Common Sense” proposals for the marina. First was 14 objectives! Maybe three that were understandable would have been good. And then after 14 objectives came 8 action items that were very non specific like “…local team of citizens…develop financial plans…establish a solid steering committee…support local businesses …”

    I spent many years in and around large corporations and the words in the article read like the typical committee nonsense derived in an attempt to get a consensus, to keep the proposers out of trouble and to kick the can down the road. There is not one actionable item in the action plan. In fact the approach reads more like what the ‘objectives’ should have been.

    Sharper and more pointed language, more simply put would be more effective. Get out of the weeds.

    =====
    I support your intentions and I wish you luck and success in creating real change. I hope you get back on track.

    No need to publish this but no problem if you do.

  • 1- 100% agree with Robert. A little bit of pithiness goes a long way.
    2- I knew something was askew with the Common Sense proposal, but I didn’t take the time to analyze it. Now that I have reread it, I too find that it’s mostly (well-intentioned) corporate BS with some lofty goals thrown in.
    3- Ditto on the web site. Something in the new format give me a tall, skinny reading column with small print and too much trees and greenery to the left and right side of the page. I can play with the zoom and that helps a bit, but it’s really a PITA compared to the way it used to be.

  • Totally agree with the previous comment about not voting for Chip Ross and instead voting for Wendall Kalil McGahee. The most important benefit of voting for Mr. McGahee is putting an end to the Chip and Dale show. This would also take away Dale’s biggest supporter and put us one step closer to getting rid of Dale Martin and replacing him with a fiscal conservative.

  • I Can easily answer some of the new questions raised. The fee study was done to see how we do with fees and costs. Not easy for us (building dept.) to do, but easy for accountants and financial experts, who were hired. The city received three quotes, and the lowest of the three qualified candidates was chosen. The cost was around $16,000 and all the firms specialize in the type of study that they were hired to perform, such as setting user fees in government services. All three companies were fairly close in costs with the highest just under $20,000. Every department in the state has to analyze their fees because we cannot charge more than our costs. After Dec 31, 2020, excess fees need to be refunded or fees reduced. Speaking of refunds, they can only be done by knowing who to refund and how much. You cannot just refund random amounts, and to whom do you refund? If we know in a calendar year, who pulled permits, and could tell if we overcharged, we could refund. However, this information is not available to any municipality as this is a new statutory requirement that takes effect starting this year. It is this December 31st that all municipality building departments have to post their permit utilization reports breaking everything down. This is the first time this will be done across the state. Also, often a project pays fees that get spent over multiple years and is not always an exact science. It is for this reason the legislature sets the amount a building department can carry is the average of 4 years operating budget. Being a new department director, it is information I need to see how to recommend adjusting fees. I did not set the current fees, but will have to adjust them as we move forward. Fees need to be set based on data and facts. This information is all public record and the results will be publicized to the commission when the study is complete. If we can lower fees, I am all for it. The study just may in fact show we need to lower some fees. Comparing to the county is not as simple as you make it out as the county is different than the city. How many 3,000 home subdivisions do we build in the city? None. Myself, and the professionals around me are not corrupt and hiding money for “pet projects”. Building fees are not mingled in the general fund, but instead a separate fund that cannot be used by the city for any other purpose but to fund the building department, also clearly stated in the State statutes and checked by state auditors each year. Personally, I strive to do the best for those we serve. I spent my career in private industry as a builder who has built multi-million dollar residences in south Florida, as well as small couple thousand dollar simple projects. I was raised to give my best and work honestly with integrity. Working for government, which I began doing in 2014, is a civil service position more so than a way to maximize income. With a red hot building market, a person with my experience, licenses, certifications and knowledge of building can make more money in the private sector. Comparing the city’s current fees against the county’s 2009 fees should show lower fees for the county. Operating in a deficit to the tune of over a half million dollars a year is unsustainable.

    • Stephen,
      Thanks for the detailed reply.

      I was hoping that our building department experts and our city accounting team could have done the analysis internally rather than spending premium dollars on consultants to do our job.

      Please look at staffing levels that are up 42% in 3 years and forecast to go up 55% in 4 years based on the budget. It seems that we need to reduce costs that are causing the fees to go up.

      Maybe your county counterpart will agree to compare costs, fees and services to see where there is opportunity for savings.
      Jack

      • Jack, I started with the city in late August 2018. Since I started, we changed a part time staff assistant to full time and created an IT position within the department as we are all electronic. This move was made to increase level of service as well as to meet statutory requirements. This IT position has not been filled at this time and is something departments that have gone all electronic require due to continuous needs to work within the system. Having an internal IT person for this will be cheaper than hiring out the help that is needed. Sadly, government doesn’t pay what private does and I wonder if I can even fill the position. Speaking of other increased levels of staffing, these figures are not true. The positions recently filled have been open for quite sometime, and there are still open positions that have been open for better than a year That I have been here. The increased need for help goes hand in hand with increased levels of work taking place. When I started and we didn’t have some staff we have now, salaried personnel were consistently working overtime, and working a lot of it. Hourly staff was working overtime as well. At some point in the past several years, yes staff has been added, but that was done to be able to handle the increases in work load. Practically every contractor has hired many new employees in the last 10 years. How is it hard to understand that increased work loads require more help? You aren’t questioning the fact that businesses have hired people due to the increased demands, but you question the city doing it?

        Simply counting permits is not an accurate assessment of what is going on. There is more development and new homes each year since the market bounced back from the 2008 crisis. The overall numbers might be similar, but the types of permits issued have changed. Customers demand next day inspections and quick plan review turn around. Hiring out help to private providers costs more than internal. Our pre-approved private providers, whom we can use when staff is out sick, or on vacation to keep meeting service needs, costs more than our internal staff. (We got three providers approved so that we don’t have to bid out each time we need to get help for a day, and did this so that we can lock in costs when we need these services in a pinch. This gives us the option to bring in help if we need it to insure that services are still provided as expected and desired). We do not use services such as those unless absolutely necessary. A private inspector/plan reviewer is $80 per hour and we have to hire for minimum 4-8 hours. Often, these inspectors have to travel in from neighboring jurisdictions as there are none available in our area. For example, if our electrical inspector is off for a week, should we just not offer electrical inspections that week? These inspections are required by State law so we can’t just not do them. If we don’t provide them next day, jobs have to stop and wait. Getting the county to cover is not an option as the county doesn’t even have staff to cover their needs as they rely on private providers to cover a good bit of what happens in the county. The inspector for electrical (as with every other area in the codes we inspect) has to have specific licenses to be able to do these inspections. Also, $800-900 a day for us to bring in private help for a day is far more than it costs the city to provide this same service!

        Also, how about considering the benefit quality inspections and plan reviews provide? How about consider the benefits the city provides for quality of the work being performed? Just this week the newspaper published an article about flood insurance dropping 20% because of what the building department does. My previous house in a flood zone cost me $1,000 a year for a $289,000 house. That would be a $200 savings per year for me. How many save money because of our efforts? How many avoid a failure or problem due to catching work getting done that has issues? A couple weeks ago, I did a sewer tap inspection where the contractor would have just covered in a new line that was broken, but was not discovered until my inspection. How much additional money and head ache would that have caused the homeowner? Last week I found a dangerous electrical installation on an unpermitted hot tub. How much is it worth saving lives and property from work that is incorrect? I can go on and on about the things we find that get corrected, all without a word to the public. I spent most of my career building, and built multi-million dollar homes. As a quality builder, as we have many here, I still learned from inspectors and they provided value for the owners. I am not saying that contractors are always making very costly or big mistakes, but it does happen more than you might realize. There is a reason the legislature intends for local government to have oversight in this area. For every high quality builder, there is one that is not so high quality.

  • OK, so why not replace the Bldg Dept with a clearinghouse that simply assigns inspections to an approved list of private providers (which you do now), and outsource permits issuance to the County?

    Such an office should not require more than 5-6 personnel. The senior person should be a licensed building inspector, such as yourselp, with the experience to assign the right provider to each job, while the others handle administrative and billing matters. Pehaps some smaller permits can be performed inhouse where the fee is more in line.

    I do not think anyone believes your department is corrupt or inept. But the very high fees you require, as attested by numerous contractors who work projects in both juresdictions, just seem out of line and discourage people from undertaking important home improvements. So joining forces with the larger County department should at least be explored.

  • Wendell is smart, incredibly knowledgeable, has 7 generations of interest in our city, wants to work with the youth of our town who have been ignored for years and is an honest and kind man! We absolutely need a change as what is happening behind the scenes, which so many don’t know about,is wrong on so many levels! Please vote for Wendell,the man of change who we need! The days of bullying must end!

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