City code updates approved

Council hears code book offer

Staff writer

Katherine DeFilippis, manager from The Lumberyard in Hillsboro, spoke to Hillsboro City Council members Tuesday at their regular meeting and offered assistance from that store in connection with the council’s quest to upgrade city codes.

“The general idea I am getting from contractors about the city’s requirement that they purchase new code books is that it is going to be a hardship,” DeFilippis said. “I am just here to offer that The Lumberyard buy a complete copy of the updated code books and then contractors could come here and look at them. It would alleviate the burden of purchase for the contractors.”

City Administrator Larry Paine said that the idea of The Lumberyard buying a copy of the International Building Code books was a good one, but it was not necessary.

“There has been some misinformation spread around on this issue,” Paine said. “The letter we sent to the contractors clearly stated that we recommended they possess a copy of the codebooks, but that doesn’t mean they have to own them. We offered to waive the standard $50 license renewal fee if they could prove they owned the books when applying for a renewed license, but it was only an incentive fee, not a requirement. If they don’t own the books, they just have to pay the customary renewal fee like always.”

Paine cautioned that the codebooks in question were copyrighted material so use of a photocopy machine to give contractors information on job sites without book purchase would be illegal.

“We get questions all the time about the codes and requirements,” DeFilippis said. “So it would be good for us to have a complete set of the books here anyway. I am just open to anything that will help the city move forward on this issue.”

The council did move forward on code updates, voting unanimously to approve ordinance 1224 adopting the 2012 International Building Codes and the 2011 National Electric Code. The codes all pertain to building, plumbing, mechanical, fire, and electric specifications for contractors.

“This keeps us in step with what the building trades are doing,” City Building Inspector Ben Steketee said. “Our goal in this industry is to provide safe buildings for us all to exist in. There is nothing that scares me at all about adopting these codes. We need to do this.”

The council discussed new building permit fee schedules, considering proposals provided by Steketee. The preferred schedule increased building-permit fees at rates similar to those used in the city of Newton, but much lower than the national average.

“Basically this brings us in closer to what it really costs to manage a permit,” Paine said.

After noticing that council members did not all have the second page of building permit fee changes, Mayor Delores Dalke said the considerable jump in fees for removal of or moving an existing structure might be worth taking note of before approval.

“I am not saying I disagree with the suggestion to increase this,” Dalke said. “It just is a very big change to go from charging $10 to move a building to asking for half the cost of the building. That is a huge difference.”

Steketee noted the fees for moving a structure were needed to cover police assistance for traffic control as well as utilities to move power lines.

“We needed drastic improvement in this area,” Steketee said.

Paine said building permit fee schedules has not been looked at since 1976, so some changes were necessary.

Council member Bob Watson made a motion to table the fee approval until all members had the correct information in front of them. The issue will be addressed at the next council meeting.

In other business:

  • Paine clarified a motion passed at the previous meeting concerning the increase of space rental fees at the city airport. Existing rentals will be grandfathered in at $45 per month, while only new rentals will be charged the increased rate of $55.
  • A public hearing for budget amendments scheduled for the Dec. 18 council meeting was reset for a special meeting at 4 p.m. on Dec. 26.
  • Paine reported that 15 city employees received cholesterol and diabetes screenings on Tuesday, paid for by the city’s health insurance plan as part of a healthy improvement program.
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