Towns explore joint zoning administrator
June 22, 2012 · Jen Rothmeyer, Sun news
Lisbon city administrator Chris Yancey has received permission from the city council to gather information about a joint zoning administrator position with the City of Mount Vernon.
Yancey said that she had begun discussions with Mount Vernon about a zoning administrator working 30-32 hours per week and wanted permission to continue the conversation. Since both Lisbon and Mount Vernon are currently without a zoning administrator, as each resigned recently, she said the cities were in the perfect position to consider it.
Several Lisbon landlords had a recommendation for an expansion of the zoning administrator's duties earlier in the meeting. They are upset about the inspection fees they are being required to pay according to Lisbon's rental housing ordinance and the landlords had suggested having the zoning administrator perform the inspections in order to lower the cost of the fees. Yancey referenced that possible expansion of duties when she spoke to the council. She said she thought Lisbon's zoning administrator had been working in the 15-hours-per-week range previously.
Currently, Lisbon's zoning administrator also functions as a code enforcement officer and has multiple duties. "The City of Lisbon took a proactive approach to certain nuisances like junk or inoperable cars, grass not mowed, weeds, etc. instead of just on a complaint basis," Yancey told the Sun. The zoning administrator was also responsible for assisting in drafting ordinances, approving building permits, answering phone calls and e-mails on a daily basis, attending Planning and Zoning Commission and Board of Adjustment meetings, and court hearings for nuisance abatements, she said. The annual budgeted pay for the zoning administrator is $10,000. Mount Vernon's former zoning administrator, Perry Gruver, was paid $5,000 a year.
Yancey also said that if a joint zoning administrator position were created, the job description would need to be rewritten.
Jerry Dietsch of Lisbon's planning and zoning Commission reminded the council that they need to support their zoning administrator and that he didn't feel the council had done that for the previous administrator, Kurt Falkenstein, who resigned on May 14. He said that if the job description was reviewed, he felt that the zoning administrator should have to run any violation notices by another member of city staff first, so that the administrator could feel confident that "his employers had his back."
Council member John Bardsley said if there was a possibility that Lisbon could get the job done cheaper, he'd be in favor of it, and that he assumed that the two cities wouldn't share equal burdens of cost, since Lisbon had less need than Mount Vernon.
Council member Larry McAtee reminded Yancey that the city had budgeted $10,000 per year. He said he'd want someone savvy on Lisbon's ordinances and what could and couldn't be done which could be tough if the zoning administrator also had to know Mount Vernon's ordinances.
Council member Doug O'Connor was in favor of the discussions.
Council member Lance Zerbe wanted to make sure that the zoning administrator wouldn't always be in Mount Vernon and that time was divided appropriately. Yancey responded that Lisbon has the office space and Mount Vernon doesn't, so the office space would be in Lisbon.
Council member Travis Jubeck said he didn't want to see ordinances between the two towns created in order to make the job easier for the zoning administrator - that the ordinances shouldn't match and the towns should continue to have unique identities.