Baxter City Council: Members mull candidates for temporary building official
City building officials inspect structures throughout the city to ensure construction and safety codes are upheld and public well-being is maintained. Discussions largely revolved around finding a balance between qualifications and costs to the city in this vital stop-gap position.
BAXTER -- The city of Baxter is running without a building official at the moment, presenting a conundrum to staffers and council members alike.
Ultimately, the Baxter City Council voted Tuesday, July 2, to contact state government to see if a temporary building inspector Baxter has contracted with in the past -- Scott Sadusky, of Cities to Lakes Inspection Services -- is eligible or not eligible for a number of specialized inspections, and to offer Cities to Lakes Inspection Services a contract regardless because of their affordability.
City building officials inspect standing structures, construction sites and plans throughout the city -- depending on their qualifications, they inspect commercial, city government, public education and other facilities -- to ensure construction and safety codes are upheld and public well-being is maintained in these structures as state mandated.
As the building official position in the city of Baxter remains unfilled, the Minnesota Department of Labor requires the city designate a building official in a temporary role until a long-term permanent candidate can be selected, Community Development Director Josh Doty said.
In the meantime, city staffers identified three options for the city to take:
Ron Euteneuer, of Great Northern Environmental Services LLC. Doty said Euteneuer is a registered building official and has agreed to be a temporary building official for the city of Baxter, but does not have state designation to inspect school construction projects. The going rate for the St. Cloud-based contractor is $60 per hour, plus an hour everyday for preparation and travel. Doty noted this would be more of a part-time workload.
Scott Qualle, of MNSPECT. Qualle has also agreed to be a temporary building official for the city of Baxter. Doty said MNSPECT has numerous inspectors and building officials, with state designation to inspect school construction projects. The going rate for MNSPECT Would be $95 per hour for general inspections and drive time, with $125 per hour for state inspection hours. The firm is based out of Waconia, which would entail a five hours of drive time attached to each service period. Doty noted this firm would be able to absorb the full Baxter workload.
Scott Sadusky, of Cities to Lakes Inspection Services. Doty said Sadusky has communicated his willingness to be the city’s temporary building official, but is not a registered building official. He is allowed to be a temporary building official and the last time the city had a vacancy, Sadusky was selected to fill that role. His going rate is $50 per hour for inspections and drive time -- the latter being minimal, as the firm is a local outfit. Doty noted this firm would be able to absorb the full Baxter workload.
Doty noted the city has roughly $60,000 on hand from permit fees for the upcoming new Baxter Elementary School. If the city were to turn over inspections of school properties over to the state, these funds would account for roughly six months of inspections. Much of the evening’s discussions revolved around whether the city wanted to keep these inspections in-house, or lean on state inspections.
Council member Mark Cross expressed concerns that the Baxter Elementary School project could last much longer than six months and thus incur a further $60,000 bill if it’s up to the state or if the designated official isn’t qualified to inspect school construction -- all of which would fall back on the city of Baxter to pay out of pocket.
Cross advocated for Sadusky to look into acquiring the qualifications to complete the full range of inspections, as he’s worked with the city in the past and appears to be the best option.
Echoing this sentiment, council member Zach Tabatt said he was in favor of hiring Sadusky.
“We’re potentially just taking $60,000 and moving it to someone else or taking on more risk than that even,” Tabatt said. “Maybe it’s smarter to just go with the lower cost option.”
In other business, the council:
Approved the appoint of a Brandon Hermerding and James Beckman as seasonal park attendants for the 2019 summer season.
Approved a construction cost share agreement with Crow Wing County for County HIghway 170-Mapleton Road intersection improvements. According to the agreement, there is no financial impact to the city of Baxter except to administer relevant agreements. Crow Wing County cost participation will be a lump sum amount of $250,000. The remaining $664,278.65 will come from the agreement with the Brainerd School District.
Appointed Corey Steininger to a public works maintenance position -- providing supervision, skilled operation and maintenance of streets, water, sanitary sewer, storm water and related facilities -- contingent on a background check.
Accepted a citywide bike and pedestrian policy. The policy is intended to streamline and establish routes, connections and safety features for pedestrians to use on more than 85 miles of roads in the city of Baxter.
Accepted a Highway 371 pedestrian bridge crossing study. The study is intended to determine the conditions and feasibility to establish efficient, safe and accessible pedestrian/bike crossings across Highway 371 between Highway 210 and north of Woida Road in Baxter.