Village terminates shared cost of code enforcement officers with Town

The Town of Geneseo decided to alter its Code Enforcement Office for the 2017 fiscal year, prompting the Village of Geneseo to opt out of sharing a contract with the Town for this service due to its cost. Code enforcement officers ensure buildings and other structures adhere to local zoning codes. For several years, the Town of Geneseo, the Village of Geneseo and the Town of Groveland shared the same code office, according to Geneseo Town Supervisor William Wadsworth.

For the next fiscal year, the Town of Geneseo was looking to potentially employ another staff member to match the workload.

“The code officer who goes out into the community, with his knowledge of the code, his knowledge of the state requirements and local requirements, is able to do fine work out there,” Wadsworth said. “We decided the best way to go forward was to hire a clerk for the office that would be doing all the internal work, hopefully very quickly and very efficiently, instead of hiring another code officer.”

The Village of Geneseo did not see the benefits in adding a larger cost to the code enforcement program, according to Mayor of the Village of Geneseo Richard Hatheway.

“We’re paying $40,000 a year right now for a part-time code officer, and we’re not really able to keep up because the code office is split,” Hatheway said. “We haven’t been able to do normal inspections, which are part of the job. We’re simply doing day to day work, such as building permits and checking on building progress.”

Hiring another individual to assist the current code officer would double the cost the Village pays, according to Hatheway. Instead of sharing the office, the Village plans to hire a part-time officer, reverting to a previous system.

“We thought perhaps we would go back to what we did some years ago, and that is to just try this on our own with a part-time person,” Hatheway said. “We feel we can do it at a lower expense to the taxpayers, and we feel we can do a good job with it.”

Since the Village decided to opt out of this shared service, the Town of Geneseo is trying to find a way to make the cost of hiring another person work, according to Wadsworth.

“The nice thing about shared services is that you can have multiple municipalities hiring one person,” he said. “It gets very tricky if you don’t have enough work for a person to keep a person on full-time because then you’re paying them for time they’re not going to be working. So, we’re going to be doing an evaluation of timesheets and verifying what we thought was true about the time spent in each place.”

The division of code officers between the Town and Village is likely to go into effect at the end of 2016 before the new fiscal year. The Town’s fiscal year begins on Jan. 1, 2017, and the Village will need its own code officer before that time, according to Hathaway.

“I guess I’ll say that anything’s on the table,” Wadsworth said. “If we can find some other municipalities to add before the end of the year and get it back up to a full-time position, we would. It doesn’t look like a full-time position to me right now, but we’ll evaluate that.”

If the Village cannot complete the job at a lower cost, it may collaborate with the Town in the future, Hatheway said.

“If it doesn’t work, we can always consult with the town once again, but this is one instance where a shared service does not seem to be saving money,” he said. “One of the reasons we were reluctant to take this step was that it appears that we’re splitting with the town over a shared service. That’s not really the case, we just think that we can do the job at a lower cost.”