City, county to consolidate code enforcement departments

08/29/2012 5:00 AM

08/30/2012 7:02 AM

After months of wrangling over details, Sedgwick County and the city of Wichita are moving forward to consolidate code enforcement.

"I’m relieved and delighted that we’re at this point finally," Commissioner Dave Unruh said Wednesday before voting to approve a resolution creating a merged Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department. “I’ve been anxious that we arrive at this point.”

He said the consolidation shows that “government wants to respond to the needs of the business community.”

Assistant County Manager Ron Holt said the merger has taken a long time because “the devil is in the details.”

“We haven’t run into too many devils,” he joked, adding that city and county attorneys served as the “devil beaters” when necessary.

The department, which the city’s current Office of Central Inspection will roll into, will review building plans and enforce building, mechanical, structural, plumbing, fuel and gas and electrical codes. The goal is for it to be in place by Jan. 1.

City and county leaders believe the merger will make code enforcement more efficient. Builders and tradespeople such as plumbers and electricians will deal with one set of codes instead of two.

The Wichita City Council approved the resolution earlier this month.

Holt told commissioners that the resolution creating a consolidated department is the first of many they’ll see. He said what commissioners approved Wednesday is the “kickoff” of resolutions. Commissioners later will approve resolutions setting new codes and establishing new trade boards, for example.

The city and county are searching for someone to direct the new department.

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