Hall County Considering Hiring Building Inspector

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HALL COUNTY, Neb. -- As Hall County continues to grow buildings and homes are getting bigger. But small towns like Alda, Doniphan, Cairo, and Wood River don't have inspectors to check that work.

According to Hall County Supervisor Gary Quandt when Max Boersen retired as County Building Inspector in August 2010 the board voted 6-1 not to replace him.

"The way I take it is they looked at the amount of inspections done in the county and what it cost them per year to have a building inspector and they just felt that it wasn't worth the cost of having a building inspector," said Wood River Mayor Greg Cramer.

Mayor Cramer went before the Hall County Board of Supervisors Tuesday speaking on behalf of the other small communities in the county.

He said he has been in contact with town leaders of Alda, Cairo, and Doniphan since Boersen retired.

Cramer said a new inspector is needed because it's not always possible for contractors to check everything when building new buildings or additions.

He said, "He would come look at your footings to make sure your footings are wide enough and to grade with re bar, he'd come back for foundation inspection or a combination of the two. They usually come back for framing and rough in, that would be a rough in of electrical, plumbing, and the framing and then they come back for a final. That would cover can't have more than 3 steps without a handrail, you got to have a deck on the back on a patio door and some people just don't ever get that done."

Board of Supervisors Chair Bob McFarland said the cost to hire someone could be in the area of $65,000-$75,000 plus office space and a county car. And right now with many other county costs, the board cannot afford that.

So Supervisor Scott Arnold said the towns could pay for inspectors of their own.

Mayor Cramer said, "It's just tough for one small community to hire somebody pro bono on doing inspections. I'd really like to have an official capacity of a building inspector, somebody from the county or somebody from the city of Grand Island that keeps current on all the codes and has a little more authority than a private inspector."

While neither the county or any of the smaller communities can afford to hire a new building inspector, the discussion has been raised to combine the cost to bring someone in.

"I really can't speak for the other communities but that's a little cost sharing and see what we can do and that's why I went to the board meeting, so we can get everybody together and do something," said Mayor Cramer.

Without an inspector, people making new buildings or additions only have to get zoning permits and septic inspections.

All other work does not need to be checked if the homeowner does it themselves. So Mayor Cramer feels an inspector is vital for the future of the county.

"It's all stuff that will show up years from now and be somebody else's problem if we don't keep track of it and take care of it," he said.

McFarland said no decision has been made yet on a building inspector, but the board will continue discussions. However this is low on their priority list. Mayor Cramer hopes for a resolution soon so budgets can include the pending cost.