The Forest Park code enforcement office has issued fewer building permits this year compared to last year as the housing market slows and construction on the Residences at the Grove winds down. But even as staff members are being asked to handle fewer permit requests, one commissioner called for a doubling of the number of licensed building inspectors.
In 2006 the building department issued 622 building permits, 155 electrical permits, 32 permits for heating, ventilation and air conditioning work, and 108 plumbing permits.
Through May 31 of this year the department had issued 206 building permits, which puts the village on track for a 20 percent dip in last year’s numbers. Another 45 electrical permits, 12 HVAC permits and 33 plumbing permits have also been issued this year, according to Boyle.
“We are seeing a softening in the market, which is slowing things down,” Mike Boyle, the director of the village’s Department of Public Health and Safety said.
Still, the village is struggling to issue its paperwork in a timely manner, especially since building inspector Bill Hayes resigned on May 9. According to Boyle and other village officials, the department is not only dealing with a staffing shortage, but could use an increase in manpower over what the current budget allows for.
Commissioner of Health and Safety Mike Curry, who oversees the building department, said Boyle simply needs more staff.
“It’s an unfortunate situation that we’re trying to resolve,” Curry said. “We only have money for one more inspector. We really need three more inspectors. It would be nice to have another person in the office because Michelle and Lin do a great job. They’re overworked, but there is nothing we can really do about that until we cut expenses and increase revenue.”
Boyle has been interviewing to fill the vacant position and said last week he hopes to hire a new building inspector as soon as possible. The loss of Hayes is especially detrimental, Boyle said, because Hayes did a lot of site review work for the department.
“When we have everybody here we function very efficiently and very effectively,” Boyle said. “When one of the guys leaves, there’s a void and me and the rest of the guys have to cover it.”
When fully staffed the building department consists of Boyle, three full-time building inspectors, two clerical workers, a part-time electrical inspector, and a part-time plumbing inspector.
“Things have slowed down a bit and while I’m not pleased by that, it’s unavoidable,” Boyle said.
Increasing permit fees is one way to raise revenue to pay for additional inspectors, and is an option that Curry and others on the village council are considering as they hammer out a new operating budget.
“We’re looking at the possibility of some incremental increases,” Boyle said.
Currently, permit fees depend on the size of the construction or repairs.
A permit for new construction costs $3 per 100-cubic feet for single-family and two-unit dwellings, and $5 per 100-cubic feet for dwellings of three units or more. A permit for repairs costs $15 per $1,000 of repairs.