COLUMBIANA - The city's assistant zoning inspector is achieving certification to continue conducting residential inspections, and commercial and industrial inspections will be done through Mahoning County.
City Council this week approved retaining Bob Belding as assistant zoning inspector, and the Mahoning County Building Department will handle commercial and industrial inspections for one year on a trial basis.
The Mahoning County commissioners oversee the certified department, which is already contracted with incorporated areas such as Campbell, Canfield City, New Middletown, Poland Village, Sebring and Struthers, among others.
City Council began considering the Mahoning department after the city's building code compliance was called into question by an anonymous person who contacted state Rep. Craig Newbold.
The complaint was that the city is not in compliance because it does not have a certified building department or building inspector.
Columbiana County does not have a building department, and Belding has conducted residential inspections for one-, two- and three-family dwellings in the city. Commercial and industrial inspections went through Columbus.
Belding told council on Tuesday he is already studying for the certification test and is prepared to take it, with members' approval.
Council had considered allowing the Mahoning department to conduct all inspections, including residential, but later agreed that retaining Belding for that aspect would work.
Councilman Bryan Blakeman noted that having a certified department and personnel conducting inspections lowers the city's ISO rating, which is beneficial for city residents.
"We are looking at upgrading Main Street. Businesses there are looking at lower insurance costs. This is 100 percent going to lower everyone's cost in the city if we do this," he said.
Council President Lowell Schloneger, the lone dissenter for contracting with Mahoning County, said the city's ISO rating is already lower than surrounding areas.
"I just think we ought to keep the (Mahoning) County separate. Our fire chief worked extremely hard to get the ISO rating lower than those around us," he said.
King said council could get feedback from area contractors at the end of the one-year term to see if they should continue contracting with Mahoning County.
Belding said the certification test will be completed within six months and will cost only $75.
City Manager Keith Chamberlin said the city will pay for the test since it has paid for employees in other departments to be certified.