Weekly Feature



2018-02-08 / Front Page

Engineers request fees

by JENNIFER WATERS
Editor

Town Engineer Steven Tanner has asked town officials for guidance in creating fees associated with basement and sewer connection inspections in cases where homeowners are not being cooperative or responsive.

His request was made during Monday’s Town Board work session, with Tanner noting that charges for non-response to inspection requests could save considerable time in sending second and third notices for scheduling inspections.

“There’s really no incentive for people to schedule inspections because there’s no fine,” Tanner said.

Once a homeowner has passed three notifications for request for inspection, Tanner said the matter is turned over to the town’s Building Department and is sent to the courts to gain access for inspection.

If a resident responds to the first notice, no fee would be involved, according to Tanner’s proposal.

“If we give you a certain number of days and you don’t respond and we have to send out a second notification, it comes with a $50 fine,” he said of the proposed fee schedule. “If it’s a third, maybe it’s a $100 fine. We haven’t defined what the fines are.”

He explained that before the proposal went too far in planning, he wanted a second opinion from the Town Board and town attorney.

Tanner said everyone in the town with a sewer connection in the home is required to have inspections done.

Of the 6,000 inspections scheduled, Tanner said there are approximately 100 cases where additional notices were required. About a dozen have gone to the summons process.

Senior Code Enforcement Officer John Gullo said the engineers are looking for a reinspection fee to be implemented.

He said the fee would primarily target homes where multiple notices are required for an initial inspection, and when citations are given, multiple notices will again be required for reinspection to ensure the connection is up to code.

“That reinspection fee could be put on our fee schedule so you don’t have to do a law about it,” Gullo said.

The 2018 fee schedule will be put before the board for approval in the coming weeks, Gullo said.

“It makes sense because there is definitely more effort being put forth because of this,” Tanner said.

Tanner said that in some cases when an inspection is scheduled, the homeowner does not show up for the appointment. These appointments sometimes are scheduled outside of regular working hours, which means more cost to the town.

“In engineering, we decided on our own to offer Saturdays because some people just aren’t home during the week between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. You can schedule a Saturday, but we do one Saturday a month to try to keep it to a minimum,” Tanner said.

Tanner said that due to the consent order from Erie County, which the town is currently facing, the engineers are required to monitor private connections. The consent order is for remediation work in the sewers.

“This is how we’re satisfying that part of the consent order is actually upholding what the town’s laws were at the time, which allows for us to go in to do inspections,” the engineer said.

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