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Unruh frustrated at Sedgwick County, Wichita code enforcement consolidation speed

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, June 26, 2012, at 9:48 a.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, June 27, 2012, at 6:37 a.m.

— Sedgwick County Commissioner Dave Unruh on Tuesday expressed frustration about the speed at which the county and city of Wichita are consolidating their code enforcement departments.

Assistant county manager Ron Holt said the project is on target, but a director hasn’t been hired. The city’s former Office of Central Inspection director, Kurt Schroeder, retired in December. The county’s former supervisor of code enforcement, Irene Hart, also retired at the end of the year. On the county side, Bud Lett is overseeing code enforcement, and on the city side, Donte Martin is. A new director will be on the county’s payroll but report to the city and county.

Unruh said it seems like merging the two departments is taking too long.

“I want to be able to smile at someone and say ‘We got it done.’ ” Unruh told colleagues at the commissioners’ weekly meeting with staff.

Managers for the city and county last year asked Holt and Martin to take a look at what services could be consolidated. They looked at code enforcement, economic development, environmental resources and housing. The latter two serve “two different constituents,” Holt said Tuesday, and consolidation didn’t make sense. The county and city also are discussing ways to consolidate economic development.

Holt agreed that consolidation of code enforcement has taken a while — “It is slow,” he said — but the project is on track.

This fall, “there will be a number of items that both elected bodies will have to vote on,” he said.

For now, hiring a director is the priority, Holt said.

City employees who work in code enforcement will continue to be city employees, and county employees will remain county employees under the consolidation. As city employees leave the city or retire, however, replacements will be hired on the county side, Holt said.

Technology also has been a stumbling block for consolidation as the city and county use different computer programs to track code enforcement. The city and county also have two separate sets of trade boards for electrical, plumbing, mechanical and building construction, Holt said.

Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or dgruver@wichitaeagle.com.

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