Clark County to handle London building inspections

Clark County commissioners approved plans Wednesday to allow the community development department to conduct building inspections for the city of London.

The deal is expected to bring in an estimated $20,000 to $30,000 in revenue to the county.

But officials did not support a proposal by the department to increase residential building fees from $20 to $40.

The all-Republican board met Wednesday for the first time since former Democratic Commissioner David Hartley resigned and Republican John Maurer was named acting commissioner.

In Maurer’s first commission meeting, he said he supported sharing services with Madison County, but thought raising fees locally sent the wrong message to area residents.

“The building department does a great job. The word is going to get out that we’re doing Madison County and we’re raising our own rates. OK. I just don’t like that,” Maurer said.

Commissioner Rick Lohnes said he, too, was against raising the fees.

“My goal would be to make it cheaper for somebody to build a house. I know it’s only $20, but I don’t want the reputation that we’re raising fees,” Lohnes said.

The motion to raise the fees didn’t have the support for the board to bring it to a vote.

Community development officials wanted to raise residential building fees to bring them in line with HVAC and electrical fees, which were raised to $40 about 15 years ago, said David Fleck, grants coordinator with community development.

Fleck also told commissioners processing residential building applications were more time consuming for employees.

“In addition to bringing the fees to a more consistent level, it’s also covering our costs more effectively,” Fleck said.

Fleck said the average building permit is about $1,200 and the fee increase would have accounted for about a 1 1/2 percent increase overall.

Clark County had only 34 new builds last year, Fleck said, and the fee increase would not have had a major impact on revenue.

Commissioner John Detrick said he had planned to vote in favor of raising the fees. However, he praised Clark and Madison county officials for working together.

“This is a classic example of uni-government; and we need to do more of this,” he said. “We need to be talking to the city of Springfield. The city and us both have the same problem, the lack of activity … The sky is the limit on this type of government consolidation, and this is a major step of counties working together to reduce their costs.”

Fleck said the agreement with Madison County will not impact the service to Clark County residents and will not require the department to hire additional staff.

“We expect a good deal of revenue to come into the department, which given the infrequency of building in Clark County, that’s going to be really beneficial for us moving forward,” Fleck said.

Lohnes said Maurer, a former Green Twp. trustee, has done a good job during for his first few days as acting commissioner. He praised Maurer for his knowledge of government and for voicing his opinion and asking questions on county issues.

“He knows what he’s doing. He did it for 30 years in the township,” Lohnes said.

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