2017-11-23 / Views

Inspection complaints are eternal; try activity ‘bonus’

What? Complaints against the county inspection department?

Actually, we were not surprised to hear two county commissioners pipe up with observations that they receive more complaints about what is officially known as the Leelanau County Construction Code Authority than any other county department.

That’s been going on for decades, and for reasons that have little to do with current Code Authority head Steve Haugen. The Code Authority holds a grip on the life blood of one of the three top industries in the county, with the other two being tourism and agriculture.

With more than $58 million in building permits issued this year, the construction industry provides good-paying jobs for county residents from engineers to roofers. Building trades promise an opportunity for hard-working residents to pay their bills while living in the most beautiful county in the state.

So when a construction permit is issued later than sought or an inspector red-marks a project, those at the receiving end of the regulatory exercise might be tempted to call the one person they believe can help — their county commissioner.

And often commissioners, whose constituents represent their life blood for re-election, react.

“The word I keep getting from contractors is the department is way behind in inspections,” Commissioner Tony Ansorge said at last weeks’ County Board of Commissioners meeting.

And that actually makes sense. Contractors are busy as bees keeping up with an avalanche of project requests.

Building Code Authority head Steve Haugen is requesting more help, and his request received serious attention. He was authorized to hire an assistant, but he’s having difficulty pulling one from the building field.

And that makes sense, too. The construction industry lives on a boom-and-bust life cycle. Today nobody is talking about a bust — which is often when one lies directly ahead.

Rather than offering higher salaries within the Construction Code Authority, we suggest bonuses based on activity.

On a related note, we reported two weeks ago that Mr. Haugen was putting in up to “70 hours,” which we interpreted as working 70 hours a week. Actually, the wages of county employees are based on 35-hour work weeks, which means a pay period — two weeks — would constitute 70 hours on the job.

Yea, don’t ask us why. It’s been like that forever.

Do county Construction Code employees and Mr. Haugen work hard? Yes.

We’re just trying to keep it in perspective.

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