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Council committee endorses code pay incentives for code enforcement

Parkersburg Code Enforcement Director Andy Nestor displays an International Residential Code manual to illustrate what code inspectors have to study for one of six certifications during a Parkersburg City Council Personnel Committee meeting Tuesday at the Municipal Building. The committee referred an ordinance establishing pay incentives for each certification a code employee earns to the full council. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

PARKERSBURG — The Personnel Committee referred an ordinance to the full Parkersburg City Council offering pay incentives for code enforcement employees to obtain various certifications, increasing the amounts proposed by the administration.

Code Enforcement Director Andy Nestor told committee members that only one member of his staff is eligible in all six areas of inspection the department handles beyond the property maintenance requirement for being hired and that’s because he started before the certification process was required and was grandfathered. He’s set to retire in October.

Nestor has provisionary certification in the areas of residential, electrical, plumbing, plans examiner and commercial building and electrical inspection. But there’s only one other full-time code employee with an additional inspection certification and studying for the rigorous tests takes a lot of time outside of work, he said.

“Right now, there’s no incentive for anybody in my office to obtain certification,” Nestor said.

The proposed ordinance would have offered an additional 35 cents an hour for each of the residential, electrical, plumbing and plans examiner certifications and 75 cents an hour each for the commercial building and electrical inspector classifications, which build on the residential ones and are more complex. Nestor said even if everyone in the department received all six certifications, which is unlikely, the additional pay would be approximately neutral with money saved after longer-serving employees retired.

Parkersburg City Council Vice President Mike Reynolds speaks during Tuesday’s council meeting, which he ran in Council President Zach Stanley’s absence. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

“I don’t think it’s enough money,” Personnel Committee Chairwoman Sharon Kuhl said. “These are hard tests. These take a lot of studying.”

Kuhl suggested boosting the additional pay to 50 cents an hour for each residential certification and $1 an hour for the commercial ones. The committee voted 5-0 to amend the ordinance, then voted unanimously to refer it to council.

Nestor said he wants to get to the point that there is at least one employee certified in each area, although employees could get additional certifications to earn more incentive pay.

“I think it gives the incentive for someone to benefit themselves financially,” he said.

Nestor said he hopes the additional pay will entice someone to fill the electrical inspection void that will soon be created.

Parkersburg City Councilwoman Sharon Kuhl reports on the Personnel Committee’s meeting earlier in the evening during Tuesday’s council meeting. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

The ordinance is expected to appear for first reading on the Aug. 23 council agenda.

Council also met in regular session Tuesday evening, voting 7-0, with Council President Zach Stanley and Councilwoman Jesse Cottrille absent, to approve the final reading of an ordinance correcting an issue that prevented the additional 50- and 75-cents-an-hour pay rates for police patrolmen and firefighters with the first class designation from being counted for cost-of-living adjustments. Council also approved the first reading of an ordinance updating the municipal code regarding accessory use structures like garage apartments on a 7-0 vote.

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