New hires to keep up with building |

New hires to keep up with building

That building didn’t slow down last winter should have been a clue that Douglas County was going to need more help this season.

Three new full-time positions were approved last week to help deal with the increase in building the county has had this summer.

“We didn’t know until April that we were going to get an influx of residential and commercial permits,” Community Development Director Mimi Moss told commissioners. “Last winter nothing slowed down, that should have been a sign.”

Moss said the department’s traditional 10-day turnaround has extended to two to three weeks.

Commissioners approved adding a building inspector, an engineering counter technician and a code enforcement officer for a total cost of $195,000.

Also one position will be adjusted to two part-time positions.

However, commissioners balked at buying two new vehicles for the inspector and the code enforcement officer pending a review of the county’s current motor pool. That would have added $50,000 to the expenditure.

During the recession, the county’s building division laid off three inspectors, a plan examiner and two office assistants. Since then one inspector and one office assistant have been added back.

The county currently only has one code enforcement officer, who has been busy inspecting and issuing permits for vacation home rentals at Lake Tahoe. She said there are 490 rentals in the Tahoe Township.

Commissioner Larry Walsh asked why the county wasn’t using private inspectors, which it did back in the 1990s.

Building Official Dave Lundergreen said the last of the private inspectors left county service roughly a decade ago.

He said that at the time they were legal, but he was concerned that law had changed since.

Commissioner Steve Thaler took issue with the claim the county was in a building boom.

Lundergreen said 206 single family permits were issued in the 2017-18 fiscal year, which ended June 30, which was up 50 from the previous year.

The county also issued about 1,800 building permits for other types of projects last year.

“I heard from someone who wants to put in a pole barn and they’ve been waiting three weeks to a month for a permit,” Commissioner Nancy McDermid said. “It’s a misnomer to tie it to new home construction. We have 1,800 other permits and a lot of people anticipating a 10-day turnaround, and it’s not happening.”

Commissioners approved hiring the employees and supplying the code enforcement officer and the building inspector from the county’s current fleet.

During the height of the building boom before the recession, as many as 500 single family home permits were issued over the course of a year.