City, county consider merging code enforcement

10/27/2011 12:00 AM

10/27/2011 12:09 AM

City and county leaders will meet next week to talk about merging code enforcement services.

Members of a "design team" that have been discussing consolidation will make their recommendations.

"I am particularly pleased with the results so far," Sedgwick County Manager William Buchanan said in an e-mail to county commissioners.

The meeting will be Wednesday.

County commissioner Jim Skelton said it's his understanding the focus has been on consolidating building code enforcement, not neighborhood code enforcement, which relates to the condition of homes and properties.

"I sure think it is a good idea," Skelton said.

The city of Wichita and county long have discussed ways to consolidate. They share a planning department and initially considered consolidating four departments: economic development, code enforcement, housing and environmental services. Housing and environmental services were taken off the table and won't be considered.

Skelton said the city and county are still looking at economic development and animal control as possible places to consolidate.

"We can look at planning as a model," Skelton said.

The team working on recommendations about consolidation is made up of city and county code enforcement staff and representatives of area trade groups, neighborhood groups and local builders, said Donte Martin, municipal court administrator for the city and Ron Holt, assistant county manager.

Martin and Holt said that nothing has been finalized.

How much consolidation could save the city and county — a big goal of merging services — is unknown. A lot would depend on how the new agency was set up, officials say.

They hope code enforcement customers — such as builders — would see more efficient service, better communication between the city and county and more consistent code interpretation.

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