Officials want to make a dent in the backlog of Whatcom County code violations by hiring a new enforcement officer.
The county council on Tuesday, Aug. 5, will be asked to approve $28,813 to cover salary and benefits for a full-time code enforcer for the remainder of 2014.
The annual salary and benefits of the new hire would be $70,727.
County staff had planned to write the new employee into the 2015-16 budget, but the need for code enforcement had grown more urgent, county Planning Director Sam Ryan said.
"I have council members and the public calling and emailing to ask about status of ongoing cases. We have a backlog of cases, and staff is not able to work through them in a timely manner," Ryan wrote June 9 in a memo to county Executive Jack Louws.
The budget request will be discussed at a committee meeting at 11 a.m. Tuesday and put to a vote at the 7 p.m. meeting of the full council. All council meetings are held at the county courthouse, 311 Grand Ave.
Planning department officials told the council in May they could not properly address several types of complaints against neighbors, involving broken-down vehicles in yards, beehives, vacation rentals, and noise and dust from motocross tracks.
Once the new officer is hired, the department's approach will be to ask violators to come into compliance voluntarily. Enforcing penalties would happen only if residents refuse, Ryan's memo said.
The planning department would like a bigger stick to wield against violators, however.
"In the long term, (the department) will seek to get regulations approved to place a lien on properties that have failed to get into compliance," the memo said.
Even as the council considers adding an employee to payroll, another staffer is being laid off. The Auditor's Office is losing a clerk whose job was to scan documents from real estate transactions. That employee made $60,644 in salary and benefits.
"The flow of documents that are coming in for recording are at a (20-year) low," Auditor Debbie Adelstein said