Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Neither county officials nor Chief Building Official Mark Marchus will say whether there are specific problems within the Routt County Regional Building Department, but all have alluded to issues surrounding building-inspector policies.
Marchus said he felt some building inspectors were not as "user-friendly" as they should be. Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan said he felt the department was doing a good job, but he has heard similar complaints from contractors in the past week.
On Feb. 2, Marchus announced that he would retire, but then on Monday said he had changed his mind and would stay with the department. On Tuesday, Marchus announced his candidacy for Routt County commissioner.
Sullivan said he could not comment specifically on the situation but said that Marchus' initial announcement to retire was not binding, so legally, Marchus could change his mind and stay.
Sullivan said he talked with Marchus for the two weeks preceding Marchus' retirement announcement. Those talks were about Marchus' retirement, but Sullivan could not say whether the county had encouraged Marchus to retire.
Marchus said he considered retirement because of issues within the building department. Getting all building inspectors in line with the goal of being user-friendly is the reason he will stay in his position, he said Tuesday.
"I want to make the entire department, not just two of the three departments, as customer-oriented as they can be," Marchus said.
Some inspectors, he said, were "lagging" in that area, and needed to be more flexible when interpreting the building code to better serve the public.
Sullivan said one potential problem involved inspectors and the chief building official.
He said he knows of instances in which a building inspector would not pass a building on inspection, and then the contractor would talk directly with Marchus, who would find a solution to the issue.
Although the chief building official would have the final say, it's important for the official to work with an inspector if the official is going to override a decision, Sullivan said.
Sullivan said he also has heard general complaints from contractors in the week after Marchus announced his retirement that inspectors are not as customer-friendly as they should be and allegations that inspectors, on occasion, have retaliated to complaints by not signing off on inspections.
"If that's going on, I need specifics on it so we can initiate a process to come to a solution," Sullivan said. "The bottom line is they all want to do a good job, but they have a duty to make sure our inspections and the projects are providing good public safety. That's why we have the regulations in the first place."
Overall, Sullivan said the building department is doing an "excellent" job and its focus has been, and will continue to be, providing good customer service.
Routt County Commissioner Dan Ellison said he could not comment on the situation because he did not know everything that had taken place Tuesday.
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