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DeKalb votes to outsource building inspections

Published: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 10:42 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 10:43 p.m. CDT

DeKALB – DeKalb aldermen hired a company to conduct building inspections temporarily after placing three employees on paid leave last month.

The DeKalb City Council voted Tuesday to enter an agreement with SAFEbuilt Illinois Inc., following the city’s building supervisor and two building inspectors being placed on leave as part of a review of the department. Services could be permanently outsourced at the end of the review. Fifth Ward Alderman Ron Naylor was the only council member who opposed the decision.

“SAFEbuilt offers full-service building department programs and supplemental services in short- and long-term engagements to public agencies,” according to the company’s website. Under the contract, existing projects would be carried out by SAFEbuilt on an hourly fee, while charges for new projects would be assessed as a percentage of the city’s fees.

Assistant City Manager Rudy Espiritu said outsourcing building inspector services would save the city about $250,000, down 56 percent from the cost of current staffing.

The city would pay a one-time $1,000 fee for software and 75 percent of building permit fees and plumbing to SAFEbuilt. The contract is proposed for one year, but can be terminated with 30 days’ notice. It would remain in place until a decision is made about the future of the building inspector services.

“It gives you an opportunity to have some experience with an outsourced contractor, and it gives you that important bridge to keep continuity in services and keep us able to continue servicing development projects in the city,” city attorney Dean Frieders said.

The fire department’s role in inspections will not be affected, and would not be a part of license inspections, Frieders said.

Council members questioned how the change would work with Crime-Free Housing inspections.

“Obviously one of the issues we’re having is code enforcement,” said 1st Ward Alderman David Jacobson. “I get more phone calls about that than anything else and I’m sure most of the aldermen do.”

City manager Anne Marie Gaura said those complaints would continue to be received through the building division.

“Our plan would be to … reply on a complaint basis and take ... those complaints, to the building division,” Gaura said. The building division then would work with the Crime-Free Housing inspectors to address complaints, she said.

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