Faced with resident complaints, the Ticonderoga town board is wondering what to do with its code enforcement office. People are concerned the codes office isn’t open to deal with residents, that inspections aren’t being completed in a timely fashion and that permits and other paperwork aren’t being processed.
Faced with resident complaints, the Ticonderoga town board is wondering what to do with its code enforcement office.
People are concerned the codes office isn’t open to deal with residents, that inspections aren’t being completed in a timely fashion and that permits and other paperwork aren’t being processed.
There was a long discussion about the codes enforcement office during a special town board meeting in February. Ti’s codes office is staffed by Wayne Wagner, a full-time employee, and Bill Ball, a 35-hour a week employee. Neither Wagner or Ball attended the meeting.
“There have been complaints that the code enforcement officers are falling behind with inspections, permits and paperwork,” Ti Supervisor Deb Malaney said after the meeting. “The codes officers feel they need more help.”
Ticonderoga had a clerk that was shared by the codes office, the town assessor and the planning board. When that position became vacant, the town board decided not to fill it as a cost-saving measure.
“We have to work to become more efficient,” Malaney said. “Not having a clerk is an additional burden on those three departments, but we must save money any place we can.”
Not hiring a clerk saves Ticonderoga taxpayers $35,000 a year.
“The codes officers feel they need a clerk,” Malaney said. “We’re looking for solutions without hiring somebody, if possible. We can’t let inspections and permits lag. The bottom line is that everyone, the codes office included, has to modify the way they do business.”
During the special meeting, trustee Jeff Cook said the codes enforcement office needs better management, not additional help.
Councilman Steve Whitford disagreed. Whitford believes the codes office needs the clerk’s position to be filled.
Wayne Taylor, a board member, suggested the codes officers be required to submit regular paperwork so the board can see what is being done and when. That way, he pointed out, an accurate picture of the codes office can be framed. Then the town board can decided whether a clerk is actually needed.
“Put down how many complaints, how many permits, how many violations were handled,” Taylor said, “who went on them, what was done and what was the outcome.”
Cook suggested putting the codes office under the direction of the Ticonderoga Police Department. He said Investigator Dan LaFrance could supervise the department.
“We have now been in this situation for years and we need to take care of it,” Cook said. “You now have this situation where at minimal cost you can have somebody manage the (codes) department.
“The point is someone will be held accountable,” Cook continued. “Nothing is getting accomplished in that department. We had an issue on Water Street that has ben ongoing for years. We have a lawsuit against the town now that could have been handled better. We have somebody (LaFrance) that has management skills that can go up there for a few hours a day and get the job done.”
LaFrance said he had researched the codes office. He noted many contractors have issues with the codes officers; there are allegations of intimidation and instances of permits being issued without inspections.
Malaney rejected the idea of the police becoming involved with the codes office.
“I appreciate the willingness of the police to help, but they’re very busy as it is,” the supervisor said. “Their plate is full.”
Justin Woods, CEO of the Ticonderoga Revitalization Alliance, attended the meeting and suggested the issue may not be management at all.
“Just adding management to the existing personnel issues may not solve the problem,” Woods said. “Just because someone has Civil Service protection, does not mean that you can not document and deal with the personnel issue.”