By Dustin Ensinger
Reynoldsburg officials are considering beefing up the department charged with protecting the property values of homeowners in the city.
On April 20, Reynoldsburg City Council directed City Auditor Richard Harris to research and report back on the cost to staff the code compliance department with two full-time employees.
The department is currently staffed with one part-time employee.
“One person can’t drive around and do the whole city,” said Councilman Mel Clemens.
Last year, the department served about 2,700 code violations, including about 1,000 due to high grass, according to Service Director Nathan Burd. But he acknowledged the city could do more with a fully staffed department.
He said the city’s sole code compliance officer works a specific area of the city each day during the week.
Burd said turnover in the department is a problem. Once hired, code compliance officers often leave for full-time positions in nearby municipalities or realize the job does not fit their skill set. He said making the position full-time could create more stability.
“Turnover itself has a cost,” said Councilwoman Leslie Kelly.
However, Councilman Richard Harris warned council they could not continue to try to address problems in the city without also tackling the city’s revenue problem.
“At some point, somebody’s going to have to start talking revenue,” Harris said. “We can’t keep adding this and adding that.”
But Clemens and Councilman Scott Barrett said more staffing in the department is an essential need.
Clemens said the time is right with the warm months approaching and the grass growing.
“I think it’s a must,” Clemens said. “Summer is here and we’ll have additional problems we’ll need to take care of.”
Barrett, at one point, alleged the department has done “nothing,” an accusation disputed by Burd.
“We as council have sat here and done really nothing to correct the issue,” Barrett said.
Bruce Sowell, a resident who served as the city’s code compliance officer for more than four years, said council needs to do more than beef up the department.
“A lot of the city’s codes haven’t been updated for years,” Sowell said.