As Frederick residents report more property code violations, the city's code enforcement department is asking for one more staff member.
The city's Board of Aldermen is considering a request from the department to bring back the assistant code enforcement manager position. The aldermen talked about the change during a workshop Wednesday and are set to consider it at a public hearing in September.
The heavier caseload, about a 25 percent increase since 2011, comes after the city improved its Web page for reporting violations and created a smartphone app, said Joe Adkins, deputy director of planning. Other factors include increased media and social media attention, and excessive foreclosures due to the economy, he said.
Dan Hoffman, code enforcement manager, said his team needs more manpower to address the complaints. The assistant manager would handle cases just as the inspectors do and would have other responsibilities.
"For five years, I've been trying to transform this department," Hoffman said. "Every year, I take one step back."
Code enforcement now has a manager, five code inspectors and office staff. The department had an assistant code enforcement manager until November 2010, when the position was cut. Hoffman served in that role until then.
The number of cases opened by staff has fluctuated over the last five years. The number reached a high in 2010, with 4,041 total cases, before the city cut the assistant manager position. The number fell to 2,664 in 2011 and continued to fall for the next two years. This year, though, as of Wednesday, inspectors have already opened 2,473 cases.
Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak said she wanted to see more data, such as the number of violations this year that were due to snow and ice issues. There were 523 snow- and ice-related violations this year, compared with four in 2013, according to city data.
The staff plans to promote one of its inspectors this year into the role, but not immediately fill the inspector's position. The department has seen enough savings in its budget to pay for the salary increase for that person, but not enough for a new position.
The pay grade for the assistant manager position ranges from $51,171 to $81,912. The pay grade for the code enforcement inspector position ranges from $40,610 to $65,031.
Under the city charter, the mayor and board cannot add funding to departments until the third quarter of the fiscal year. At that point, in April, the new position could be approved.
Along with acting as an inspector, the assistant manager's role would be to address trouble spots in the city, work on the blighted properties list, manage inspectors and assist the manager, according to a city document.