Lakewood To Hire Code Consultant

LAKEWOOD – As Jeff Swanson, temporary inspection officer for Busti and Lakewood, acclimates to his new position, Charlie Smith, former Lakewood code enforcement officer, will act as a consultant to help with the transition.

The Lakewood Village Board discussed at a recent meeting whether Smith would be hired as a consultant or if his hours with the village would simply be cut. Each option held different ramifications in terms of compensation. Tad Wright, village attorney, said if Smith remained a village employee, the village would need to continue to provide him with health insurance until the transition period ends. On the other hand, if Smith returned as a consultant, he would need to provide his own insurance.

With Smith retiring, Swanson, as the new temporary code enforcement officer, will take over all of Smith’s projects. Some of these projects include construction projects halfway finished. Swanson wanted to keep things constant with those in-progress projects as well as have the opportunity to ask Smith questions as he familiarizes himself with the village code.

The board hired Smith as a contractor at $32.87 per hour. His hours cannot exceed eight hours a week without the mayor’s consent. The contract will last until the start of September.

Recently, Busti and Lakewood agreed to share a code enforcement officer. The contract would split the $45,000 salary of a full-time code enforcement officer between the town and village. In exchange for receiving half of the officer’s time, Lakewood would reimburse Busti $22,500. Payments will be made on a monthly basis.

Previously, Busti paid $20,000 for a code enforcement officer all day Monday and for half of the day on Wednesday.

Lakewood previously paid $35,000 for an officer 8:30 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. In the new agreement, the town and village will be covered more hours for $10,000 less.

While it passed unanimously by the Busti Town Board, not everybody on the Lakewood Board supported the contract. David DiSalvo, Lakewood trustee, expressed concern that because of a backlog of issues, the 20 hours a week allotted to Lakewood will not be enough time for the code enforcement officer to address issues within the village. Clarifying while he was not against Swanson, nor against shared services, he did not like the way the contract was written, and felt the village board should have been more involved.

The agreement still sits in the initial stages, and the contract lasts until June of next year with a 90-day cancellation clause for the village in case things do not work out.