Resolution would give code enforcer more power

Published 9:19 am Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Star Photo/Brandon Hicks Planning director Chris Scheuttler

The Carter County Planning Commission approved a resolution that one day could give the Carter County Planning Department more power to enforce building codes.
Planning Director Chris Scheuttler asked the commission to approve a resolution allowing him and the county attorney to develop a resolution to adopt the stricter international property maintenance codes.
Under the stricter codes, the Carter County code enforcement officer would have the authority to write citations with fines and take code offenders to General Sessions Court.
As of now, the code enforcement officer cannot issue citations, Scheuttler said.
The process as it stands requires officer codes enforcement officer Chris Pierce to talk with the offenders about their violations. If they do not resolve the issue, a letter and then follow-up letters are sent before a summons is issued for them to appear in court.
“If there is no compliance, then they will appear in General Sessions Court, but there is a wait list and it takes a long time for it to get there,” Scheuttler said. “This would give us a stronger, more timely code enforcement plan.”
If the code changes are approved, then a court date would be set each month or quarter for code violators to appear. Improvements with compliance likely would come with the tougher enforcement, Scheuttler said.
“I think once there were more citations, people would fall in line,” he said.
Under the current process, it seems like the code enforcement officer is trying to do his job but has no way to back it up, Planning Commissioner Ray Lyons said.
“That has to be frustrating,” Lyons said. “What can we do to make this go faster? I know the resolution will help, but how long will it take?”
Scheuttler said he hopes to have the resolution to adopt the new codes before the Planning Commission at its next meeting. After that, it would go to the County Commission for approval. If approved there, then the code enforcement officer could start issuing citations.
The Planning Commission unanimously approved the resolution to allow Scheuttler to pursue the new code regulations.
The commission also approved the transfer of funds to allow for a raise for the vacant assistant director position, and for the director. The increase would bring the assistant’s salary from $27,178 to $29,000.
The director’s pay would increase from $37,978 to $43,300, which Scheuttler said was the minimum amount for a manager position in the county.
Scheutter said he talked with county finance director Ingrid Deloach who said it was legal to transfer the funds. He said he wanted to offer the future director a better pay rate because he was “tired of training people who end up leaving.” He felt the additional funds would also bring in better qualified and trained individuals for the position.
County Mayor Leon Humphrey cast the only dissenting vote for the transfer of funds. He suggested the vacant position be advertised as is to see who would apply.

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