Council looks at raising fee for building inspections

PLYMOUTH — In the course of considering changing Marshall County building inspector Chuck DeWitt’s position from part-time to full-time, county council members happened upon another topic—the amount that the county actually receives for doing building inspections.
DeWitt, who does all the building inspections for the county’s communities, collects a fee of $50 per project. This amount is the same no matter how far DeWitt travels to do the inspection, or how many times he visits the same project.
In the county council meeting Monday, council members seemed to think that the fee (set by a county ordinance) was too low.
“50 bucks ain’t enough,” commented council member John Benedict.
Council member Judith Stone said that the $50 fee does not come close to covering what it actually costs the county to do the inspections, especially when expenses such as mileage are considered. Council president Matt Hassel agreed that the fees for building inspections needed to be reevaluated, but said that the county commissioners would need to determine the adjusted fee.
After lengthy discussion, council members passed a unanimous motion to direct the county commissioners to evaluate the building inspection fee, find the actual cost of doing the inspection, and adjust the fee accordingly.
“If the local communities don’t want to raise their (fees) they will have to hire their own building inspector,” said Hassel.
The council also discussed changing DeWitt’s position from part-time to full-time.
Commissioner Jack Roose attended the meeting to bring up the subject. Roose reported that the department had completed 467 inspections during the first and second quarters of 2011. Roose noted that since July, (the beginning of the year’s third quarter) DeWitt had already done 151 inspections.
“We just feel that with things growing the way they are we need to go ahead and make him a full-time position,” said Roose.
Council member Ralph Booker said that DeWitt was already working more hours than his part-time salary paid him for because of his commitment to the job.
“He has actually, in my view, given hours to the county beyond his salary,” said Booker.
Booker said that although DeWitt is only paid for four hours of work each day, he had seen DeWitt work more than that on many occasions.
“He (DeWitt) has a vision that inspections need to be timely,” said Booker.
The council eventually voted to make DeWitt’s position full-time.