Changing inspector certifications, economic development in Columbus

Changing inspector certifications, economic development in Columbus

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Employee certifications for Columbus city inspectors are under scrutiny by city leaders for possible reconsideration of what's currently required. Those positions include plumbers, electricians and building inspectors who ensure your home or commercial property meets code.

"If there's electrical work at my house that has to be inspected by an electrical worker, I want to know that, that inspector knows what that person is supposed to be doing."

Columbus City Councilor Judy Thomas made it clear in Tuesday's work session that she wants to make sure certification standards for city inspectors are not lowered.

At issue is the ICC -- International Code Council Certification, it's a city requirement for inspectors that's now under the microscope by city councilors. ICC must be obtained within two years of employment despite the worker holding a state license.

"I want us to raise the standards so that we can say to whoever we need to say this to-- in Columbus, Georgia, we've got the most qualified, best folks in the entire state," stated Thomas.

Deputy City Manager David Arrington said the state considers ICC to be equivalent because the state law says either ICC or a state license to be acceptable locally. "It took quite a bit of discussion but I believe that there was a better understanding toward the end as to what we were talking about."

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson reiterated that she wants the city to have the highest and best qualified individuals that we possibly can. "I'm actually concerned that we don't require state licensing, but we require ICC which is a single test to be taken. So it sounds like there's pros and cons and I'd just like to learn a little bit more about it."

Arrington added, as directed by council, he'll send the modified job descriptions to the University of Georgia for review and if they don't have a problem, he plans to share that information with council and if they concur, they'll move forward.

No timeline was given as to when a final decision could be decided.

On another note, two possible economic development opportunities were also discussed. One opportunity was voted down by 250 votes in 2007. TADS or Tax Allocation Districts will appear on the ballot again in November.

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said they're redevelopment districts or powers which exist in 70 cities and counties in the State of Georgia, but Tomlinson also pointed out that Columbus is running a little behind the times.

Tomlinson also describes it as a redevelopment tool to encourage investors, and builders to come into areas that are blighted areas to build more stable communities.

"The districts are a way that we can finance millions of dollars without putting the taxpayers on the hook.

And we are able to pay off bonds and they are not bonds that the city it's really a win, win, we don't incur anymore debt. The bonds are secured by the revenue that comes in from the new development," explained Tomlinson.

Another economic development tool already in place in Enterprise Zones. Director of Planning Rick Jones presented ideas to council on expanding those zones.

"We are expanding areas along Victory Drive, the Liberty District itself, some areas just south of South Lumpkin Road...that we can look at, really because they are contiguous as the law requires and they're areas we need to look at in terms of their needs, wants and desires."

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