Pekin’s code enforcement could soon be under the direction of the city’s police department, officials said, following the passage of the 2016-2017 budget.
The Code Enforcement Department currently only has three full-time employees that work code enforcement and building inspections. Interim City Manager Sarah Newcomb said the department at the moment has two unfilled positions that could be filled to solely focus on code enforcement, while the three positions already filled would remain focused on building inspections.
Newcomb said the possible changes would put code enforcement under the police department’s control and building inspections would be under the city’s engineering department.
“One of the things we’re looking at is to increase code enforcement throughout the city in a more proactive manner,” Newcomb said. “... Right now we’re more complaint driven that what we really want to be.”
The change in personnel, Newcomb said, would allow the code enforcement officers under the police department to be more focused on enforcement and be more involved with the community without having other duties.
Police Chief John Dossey, who joined the department in October 2015 and previously worked in Hanover Park, said the change in code enforcement would be a positive thing for the city.
“It worked really well (in Hanover Park),” Dossey said. “It had a positive impact in the community and police department.”
Under police control, the department would have direct access to necessary code enforcement information.
Code enforcement officers would undergo training and focus mainly on rental properties to make sure that facilities are up to code.
“You have to be able to go in and look and see what they’re required to have,” Dossey said. “There’s a lot more than writing tickets for tall grass.”
The building code on which the officers would base their enforcement is close to the end of its lifespan, Newcomb said. The latest building code requirements date back to 2006 and are required to be updated every 10 years.
“That’s going to be a big project. We’ll have to update all of our ordinances and anything that references any of that has to be updated,” she said.
The city will also look to purchase new software for the code enforcement department due to the current one being out of date to make it more efficient.