With the loss of its codes director, some Warren County Commission members are considering a replacement and Warren County Home Builder’s Association members are worried they might not.
The county’s Policy and Personnel Committee has accepted the resignation of Nolan Ming.
His last day as county codes director was Friday. He was hired by the city as its codes director and his first day is Aug. 10.
A motion to accept Ming’s resignation letter was unanimously accepted by commissioners Ken Martin, chairman, Carlene Brown, Charles Morgan and Tommy Savage. Absent was County Commissioner Wayne Copeland. Immediately following, a second motion to begin the hiring process to find his replacement also passed unanimously. A help wanted ad for the position can be found in today’s edition on page 2D.
In attendance at the meeting were Warren County Home Builders Association members Anthony Malone, owner of Malone Construction, and Keith Bouldin, owner of Tri-State Development.
“I’m in favor of a codes department in Warren County,” said Malone. “I see a need for it. To let y’all know, Oct. 10 was when the permitting system went into place in Warren County. In that time, 447 permits have been issued and right at $34 million in construction costs. What it has collected, and here’s the kicker, is $116,000 and that’s where we are having a little issue. I don’t know how to get that number balanced so that office can do better at paying for itself.”
Malone says the county should remember that having a codes department and issuing permits means the county’s Property Assessor’s office knows sooner that upgrades to a property are taking place and a reappraisal can be done and taxes adjusted accordingly.
“We need to remember the permits automatically go down to the Property Assessor’s office and they are able to pick up on them immediately,” said Malone. “Before, you could build a house, or whatever, and there might not be any taxes paid on it for up to five years. I’ve seen that first-hand. I know for a fact it happens. If you take the fact it gets on the tax roll quicker and the cost of the permits, it looks like to me the office is more than paying for itself.”
Warren County Executive Herschel Wells disagreed.
“It’s not paying for itself,” said Wells. “You don’t count that (property taxes). Let’s not count that.”
When questioned why they can’t count lost revenue, Wells added, “We’re going to pick that up anyway.”
Malone added, “Maybe in five years. That’s lost taxes. This way it’s automatic. You’ll agree that it’s automatic?”
“Yes,” said Wells.
“Then why can’t you count it? It’s lost revenue for the county,” said Malone.
Bouldin says he would prefer to keep the service local.
“If we can, I would rather have a local inspector doing it rather than a state inspector,” he said. “The Home Builders Association is concerned so they asked us to come and express their opinion.”
The two stated they were asked to attend the meeting by the association and voice concerns created by comments from some county commissioners that they do not want to continue with a codes department.
Martin assured the men the majority of commissioners want to keep the Codes Department but said the process to find someone to replace Ming would take awhile.
“I can tell you we will move forward with this as fast as we can,” said Martin. “I hope we can find somebody who is as knowledgeable as Mr. Ming is. I think it’s going to be tough to replace him, with the knowledge of codes that he has. We’ll move forward and do the best we can. Hopefully, there’s another Nolan out there.”
A successful hiring process could take months. Until Ming is replaced, local contractors will have to look to the state, rather than the county, for permit needs outside McMinnville city limits.