Ohio New construction and remodeling projects in Licking County just got cheaper and officials cite the county’s move to an on-demand building-code department.
The county created its own building-code office last year after Newark abolished its department, which had once served most of the county. The new countywide office, which has four full-time employees and hires inspectors on an as-needed basis, ended last year $100,000 in the black.
A year earlier, Newark’s department cost the city about $100,000 despite laying off about half the 20-person staff because of a drop in construction.
In response to the windfall, the Licking County commissioners yesterday voted to cut fees for applications and permits by 3 percent for most projects and to allow homeowners doing residential alterations or remodeling to pay a one-time, $25 application fee.
Jack Pryor, the county’s building official, said a home-remodeling project last year cost between $60 to $200 or more in permits and fees.
“The goal is to break-even,” Pryor said. “While we can’t ever get that down to the dollar, this reduction in feesis our best guess at getting closer to a break-even point. We don’t want to lose money, either.”
He said that if as many remodeling projects are completed in 2011 as were done in 2010, the county will bring in about $40,000 less because of the lower fees.
Pryor said he has been fielding questions from other building-code departments, most recently from KnoxCounty, that want to know how Licking County has been able to make the department work with such a small staff.
He said the county has a group of six part-time inspectors, who are retired but maintain their state licenses. They are called in only when there are inspections needed. That model ensures that the fees cover the cost of the inspections.
Mark Mauter, owner of Mark Builders in Heath and a past president of the Buckeye Valley Building Industry Association, said the county’s permit and inspection process has run smoothly so far.
“Coming in the midst of budget cutbacks, it was a cause for concern for a lot of us,” he said of the new department. “For the most part, it’s worked very well.”