(Posted March 27, 2015)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Clark County now provides full building department services for the city of London.
The agreement became official earlier this month. Clark County’s Community Development division now handles all of London’s inspections and enforcement of building and zoning regulations for residential and non-residential properties.
Steve Hume, London’s safety-service director, said the agreement should save the city money.
For the past three years, the city has contracted out building department work to Asebrook & Co., a private firm located in Columbus. When city officials decided to reexamine their options, they looked outside the private realm and found Clark County.
“They’re a government agency with capacity to not charge as much (as a for-profit company),” Hume said.
The agreement also goes hand-in-hand with Gov. John Kasich’s push for collaboration among government agencies.
“We think it’s a better fit for us to work with another government,” Hume said.
Through the agreement, the city will pay Clark County 75 percent of any permits that come in under $10,000 and 50 percent of permits between $10,000 and $100,000. The city paid Asebrook 90 percent.
“I believe 100 percent Clark County will be good for the city of London,” said London city councilman Jason Schwaderer.
The city’s collaboration with Clark County also benefits Madison County, which contracts with the city of London for building services in the county’s unincorporated areas.
Building department history
London hasn’t always relied on outside entities for building code inspections and enforcement. From 1997 to 2012, the city operated its own building department.
Through the mid-2000s, the department paid for itself through fee collections. That trend changed with the real estate market downturn and recession. At the same time, the city faced other financial struggles. As a result, in 2009, the city eliminated the department’s part-time code enforcement position and cut the clerk position to part-time.
In 2012, the city eliminated the chief building official position, effectively closing down its building department. That’s when they turned to Asebrook & Co. for contracted services.
While those services are now handled through Clark County, the city maintains a local part-time clerk to take requests for inspections, accept plans and applications, and handle state surplus paybacks.
Fee changes; contractor registration
While London’s fee schedule for building permits remains essentially the same, on March 19 city council approved a few changes suggested by Clark County’s chief building official. The changes involve lowering or eliminating some miscellaneous fees. For example, the hourly charge for after-hours inspections went from $150 to $75. Another change is elimination of the admini-strative fee previously attached to permit fees.
Also on March 19, council passed a resolution requiring electrical, mechanical, gas-line and refrigeration contractors to register with the city if they perform work within the city. The cost is $100 for a new registration and $75 for annual renewals.
With registration, the contractors must submit copies of their state license, certificate of insurance and certificate of worker’s compensation.
Hume said the registration allows the city to compile a complete list of contractors with which to communicate fee schedule changes.
“It’s also a way to be sure they have everything they need,” he added, regarding licensing and certification.