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Willmar, Minn., backs agreement to provide services to the county

WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council has authorized City Administrator Charlene Stevens to negotiate an agreement with Kandiyohi County to provide construction pl-an review and building inspection services to the county.

The council authorized the agreement after the county came to the city looking for assistance with plan review and inspection services due to a retirement at the county offices, according to Stevens.

She said city staff would offer up to eight hours per week of services, initially two 4-hour morning sessions. Inspection services would be restricted to the nearby townships of Willmar, Dovre and St. John's.

Stevens said the city chose to limit the geographic area to the three townships. She said the county's primary need was in plan review, at least initially, to help them catch up during their peak period, and inspection services as needed.

"They have only one full-time inspector now but we wanted to try to limit the geographic area so that it made sense for us and we could provide that,'' said Stevens. "The county understands that the city's needs are a priority. If they don't have volume for us, we won't spend eight hours there.''

Stevens discussed the proposed agreement with the council's Community Development Committee on May 17. Committee members took no vote on the proposal but agreed to let Stevens proceed with the agreement.

Committee Chairman Jim Dokken reported the panel's discussion at Monday night's council meeting and the council approved a motion by Bruce DeBlieck to allow Stevens to enter into the agreement. Dokken praised the cooperative effort between the city and county.

"What we're doing here is absolutely the right thing, I think,'' he said.

The agreement will call for an hourly rate for inspections of $47.50 plus Internal Revenue Service mileage costs.

Council member Rick Fagerlie asked if the city and county enforce the same building code.

Council member Steve Ahmann, a home builder, said it's the same state building code.

"How well it's enforced is up to the individual area,'' he said.

Willmar City Building Official Randy Kardell defines plan review as "a thorough and exacting process of reviewing all submitted construction documents to verify the materials, methods, specifications and code requirements are in total compliance with all applicable code.''

In related discussion, Ahmann spoke in support of a suggestion made by council member Ron Christianson at the committee meeting that governmental entities, which enforce the building code, create a "one-stop shopping'' office for contractors to call or go to for inspection services.

"It might simplify things,'' Ahmann said.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150