Human Resources Committee
March 11, 2008
IN ATTENDANCE: Ms. Naugle, Mr. Butterfield, Ms. Giles, Mr. Peterson, Manager Lawver, Ms. Stull
OTHERS IN ATTENDANCE: Peter Schilling and Bill Chittester, representing Commonwealth Code Inspection Service, Inc.
Moved Mr. Butterfield, seconded Ms. Giles to approve the Human Relations Committee minutes of February 12, 2008.
PRESENTATION BY COMMONWEALTH CODE INSPECTION SERVICES
Manager Lawver briefed the committee noting that the Code Enforcement Department has not been as productive in the past few years and there have been many complaints that he is considering the possibility of other services or regionalizing. He invited Peter Schilling and Bill Chittester of Commonwealth Code to give a presentation to the committee of the services they can provide the Borough.
Mr. Schilling noted the business was started in the 1960"s and that everyone is certified to do inspections.
Mr. Chittester presented the committee with hand outs of sample copies of permits, applications and fee schedules. They would work with the Borough to administer and enforce the Uniform Construction Code (UCC) and enforce the Property Maintenance Ordinance. Mr. Chittester explained the Borough would have complete control of all permit activity for both commercial and residential, and they would collect all fees including an administrative fee for the Borough if the Borough request. He noted some municipalities add 10 - 15 percent.
Mr. Butterfield asked if they are familiar with what the Borough's code enforcement department handles now. Mr. Chittester responded yes they would continue with everything the department does now except the Regulated Rental Unit Ordinance (RRUO) unless the Borough request that service. Mr. Schilling noted they have been doing property maintenance and RRUO in other municipalities.
Mr. Peterson asked how they determine their fees. Mr. Schilling responded they have a fee schedule for residential and commercial projects. The applicant would be responsible to pay their fee when they apply for permits.
Mr. Peterson asked what the next step would be for the Borough. Mr. Schilling responded the committee would need to inform them what services they are interested in so a contract could be prepared. The Borough Solicitor would then review and approve the contract before Borough Council signs it.
Mr. Peterson asked if they would work with the Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB) to ensure the plans are followed. Mr. Schilling responded yes they follow up and review all plans.
Manager Lawver pointed out the Borough opted out of the UCC because we don't have a certified person on staff. He noted the Borough has no control over commercial buildings as they go directly to Labor & Industry which don't follow HARB regulations. Manager Lawver also pointed out the Commonwealth Code Service would tailor their service to the Borough needs.
Ms. Giles asked if this would solve any of the planning and zoning board issues. Manager Lawver responded it would help because the occupancy licenses wouldn't be issued if the plans aren't followed and completed properly.
Ms. Naugle expressed her concern of contracting out instead of using Borough employees; outsiders may not be fair to the Borough residents. Mr. Schilling responded they hire people to solve problems and to work with people.
Mr. Butterfield asked what happens if there is a citizen's dispute. Mr. Schilling responded they could opt to go before the appeals board. Ms. Giles asked who would pay these cost. Mr. Schilling responded the applicant would be responsible for any charges.
Ms. Giles noted Gettysburg is a unique town and the ADA lawsuits have gotten out of hand; businesses are adding ramps that aren't approved. Mr. Schilling responded you must enforce securing permits and have a checklist satisfied before signing off to the Commonwealth to eliminate problems.
Mr. Butterfield asked if they would look for derelict cars parked throughout town. Mr. Schilling responded if they are contracted to do property maintenance it would be part of their procedure.
Manager Lawver noted he and Chief Dougherty have discussed this and a full time officer could patrol for abandoned cars, weeds, and other such problems.
Ms. Naugle asked what would be the best service for the Borough to begin with. Manager Lawver responded the property maintenance code.
Ms. Giles asked if they follow ADA regulations. Mr. Schilling responded yes they follow accessibility very closely. Ms. Giles asked if they have any experience with ADA. Mr. Schilling responded yes they must follow and enforce all codes and state mandates.
Mr. Schilling suggested they begin with property maintenance this year and begin administering and enforcing the UCC in January 2009. He noted there may be some enforcement issues the first six months due to projects that are already in progress.
Ms. Naugle asked what other municipalities they contract with. Mr. Schilling answered to name a few is Franklin, York, Fulton, Lancaster and Lebanon. Ms. Naugle asked if they would need to secure an office at the borough building. Mr. Schilling responded it would be efficient to have an office here but they could work out of their York office.
Ms. Naugle requested a list of the municipalities they serve so the committee could discuss directly with the municipalities any questions and concerns they may have.
Mr. Butterfield asked if they would assign one person to the Borough. Mr. Schilling responded they like to have the same person in an area that would become familiar with the area and contractors. He noted however, if it is busy they would send a second inspector to the area.
Mr. Butterfield expressed his concern whether the fees are too high and asked for clarification as to who pays the fees. Mr. Schilling responded they are mid range on the fee schedule -not low and not the highest priced. The applicant would pay the fees not the Borough. Mr. Chittester noted Labor & Industry is more expensive. Manager Lawver noted Commonwealth Code would collect fees directly from the property owners.
Ms. Giles asked why this was presented to the Human Relations committee. Ms. Naugle answered it would involve Borough employees.
Mr. Peterson suggested a workshop session with all of Council to discuss further. Manager Lawver responded Mr. Schilling and Mr. Chittester would be happy to give a presentation to Council.
Ms. Naugle expressed her concern of having hiring a full time police officer to look for weeds, garbage, etc. throughout town. Manager Lawver responded Chief Dougherty is considering an extra officer to fill in for vacation time so they won't be paying so much in overtime. This officer then could be used half of his time doing code enforcement issues. Ms. Naugle suggested a breakdown of borough cost to see what savings it would be for the Borough.
Manager Lawver informed the committee the contract with Commonwealth Code Inspection would be for 2 years and a portion of the code enforcement salary could be used towards this service.
Ms. Naugle asked when this should be given to Council for consideration. Manager Lawver responded it would be up to the committee if they wish to have a workshop for all of Council. Ms Naugle suggested the committee review cost and benefits before taking to Council. Manager Lawver will supply information and costs for the committee to review at their next meeting and forward to Council in May.
The committee agreed this would be a great service and would create consistency.
Mr. Butterfield expressed his concern with the code enforcement employee this would affect. Manager Lawver noted he spoke with Attorney Neva Stanger about the proper procedure to handle the issues that may arise.
COMMITTEE MEETING GUIDELINES
Ms. Naugle presented the committee with a handout outlining the procedures for conducting meetings. Mr. Butterfield suggested adding to these guidelines to notify board chairpersons of any open seats.
Ms. Naugle prepared and presented the committee with a volunteer application and description of all boards and commissions.
Mr. Peterson noted an opening on the Gettysburg Municipal Authority Board and asked if someone from Cumberland Township could be appointed to the board. Ms. Giles asked if Jamie Fleet has resigned from the GMA Board. Manager Lawver answered not yet and will speak to Solicitor Eastman about the situation.
Mr. Butterfield requested a copy of the GMA bylaws.
Ms. Naugle pointed out vacancies on the boards and commissions. She spoke to Mark Weaver and Darlene Brown who are interested in serving. Ms. Naugle recommended Mark Weaver for the Planning Commission.
The next Human Relations Committee meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 8, 2008 at 3:00 PM.
With no further business the meeting was adjourned at 5:45 PM.
Approved by Chair