Gary consolidates code enforcement functions
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent October 6, 2012 6:02PM
GARY — Moving the city’s code enforcement under its Law Department umbrella will allow the city to expand its services and cover areas it previously could not, according to the administration.
Both Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and Councilwoman Marilyn Krusas, D-1st, came out in support of the measure at Tuesday night’s Common Council meeting. Due in part to the mayor’s realigning some city departments for budgetary efficiency, placing the code enforcement department — of which part is housed at the city’s Public Safety Building on Polk Street and another at 839 Broadway — makes sense in centralizing, according to Niquelle Allen, corporation counsel, especially since the code enforcement coordinator position, held by Kenya Maclin, resides in the Law Department.
The move is also partly because funding used to cover salaries for some code enforcement positions didn’t necessarily equate to code enforcement coverage for the entire city.
“Some years ago, the city began using Community Development Funds to provide code enforcement in certain areas of the city. The funds do not allow for enforcement in Miller and Morningside,” Allen said in an email. “Therefore, the city retained staff to provide coverage for those areas under the Buildings Department.”
Also, the Law Department processes code enforcement citations as well as provides legal counsel to prosecute those citations in Gary City Court, Allen said.
“It made sense to remove the city-provided staff from the Buildings Department and to align those efforts with the Community Development-funded code enforcement officers to create a cohesive (department),” she said. “The officers are each assigned a specific area of the City, (and) the City is currently exploring providing night and weekend code enforcement.”
The Building Department has five code enforcement officers, while the Code Enforcement Department has four.
Additional positions funded by the city’s proposed rental-fee ordinance were being considered in an early draft, but whether that will still be an option for the city remains unclear as the Finance Committee continues to work on it.