TOWN OF NIAGARA – The Niagara Town Board is considering giving building inspector Charles Haseley oversight of the storm water review and report process.
Following a lengthy discussion Thursday during a board work session, Haseley was directed to come up with a new fee schedule for storm water inspections and develop the other related aspects of the assignment.
Haseley, whose inspection job was cut to half time when his department underwent a severe reduction last year but was then restored by a board majority, will receive extra pay for the storm water work but no exact figures were discussed. He said a survey of storm water officers in the area showed a range of $24,000 to $80,000 annually for the job.
Storm water management is a mandate put on local municipalities by the state, along with federal restrictions, that requires monitoring of the storm water that runs off during and after land development and could result in erosion, flooding and pollution. The goal of the program is to keep storm water on a development site.
Because no money comes from the state for the work, the board’s aim is to build the costs into the inspection fee schedule that developers must pay rather than pass the cost on to the town taxpayers.
Haseley called the requirement another “unfunded mandate that is growing by leaps and bounds.” He said it is time for the town to take some action on the situation and come up with a policy. For the past two years, there were problems compiling the annual report to the state because it was like “steering the ship blind.”
Part of the report requires an account of how much road salt, fertilizer and other chemicals the town uses during normal operation, it was noted. With a formal policy in place, Haseley said he would have the authority to collect the information from all department heads.
Haseley would work with the town engineer to develop a new fee schedule and a policy for the town to follow. In addition, he would attend storm water coalition meetings.
The board also discussed the need to raise building inspection fees for commercial developments.
Town engineer Norm Gardner, from the Clark Patterson Lee firm, said the town charges lower fees than other surrounding areas. He recommended the town change its schedule to increase fees based on what other areas charge.
Supervisor Steven Richards said the town “can’t keep absorbing state mandates.”
Haseley said along with the fee adjustments, he needs the authority to request Gardner to conduct commercial inspections when his department becomes overloaded with requests.
The board is expected to approve both actions at its meeting on Tuesday.