City keeps part-time building inspector

Published 10:24 am Tuesday, July 24, 2012

SAFEbuilt's George Dixon

The City of Bainbridge is contracting with a company to handle its building department services, after a successful month-long trial contract was completed.

Bainbridge decided to outsource its building department functions following the retirement of long-time building official/inspector Bob Gardner. The economic downturn had resulted in less workload and less revenue for the building department, City Manager Chris Hobby had said previously.

“We really only have a workload for someone to be at the building department 2.5 days a week, and it’s hard to find an individual willing to do that kind of work on a part-time basis,” Hobby said.

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Therefore, the city contracted with SAFEbuilt, a Colorado-based company, that provides building and safety services to local governments across the United States. Hobby said the firm already has contracts with small municipalities in the Atlanta area and is looking to expand into Southwest Georgia.

Hobby introduced George Dixon, a certified building code inspector whom SAFEbuilt has assigned to work for its clients in this area, at last Tuesday’s Bainbridge City Council meeting.

Dixon has relocated to Bainbridge, which Hobby said could benefit local contractors in that regardless of where he has to travel to serve other clients, the building inspector will start and end his day here.

Dixon will be at Bainbridge City Hall three days a week but said he will usually be available to perform urgent inspections as needed on the other two weekdays. Applications for permits and scheduling of inspections can be done five days a week out of City Hall using software.

The city’s contract with SAFEbuilt calls for an annual retainer of $45,000 per year, or $3,750 per month. If SAFEbuilt is able to add two additional locations, the city’s retainer would be reduced to $40,000, due to shared cost savings, Hobby said.

Hobby noted the SAFEbuilt contract represents a significant savings over hiring a full-time building inspector. For the 2011-2012 Fiscal Year, the Building Department had a budget of $83,000 and operated at a loss, according to Hobby.

SAFEbuilt currently gets to keep 50 percent of whatever building permit and inspection fees the city currently has in place.

“We’re not looking at any changes to our current building fees at this time, although George has made some recommendations that we may talk about closer to budget time [in September],” Hobby said. “We’re satisfied with the contract; George has done a good job so far.”