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Changes to codes are OK’d

By Corene Brisendine

City commissioners approved adoption of international building and national electrical codes Tuesday over the objection of Mayor John Matta.

Matta said he opposed the changes because he campaigned on a platform against them. But that objection didn’t hold with the rest of the commission, which approved the new codes 4-1.

Commissioner Wynn Butler made public an email from Gary Olds in which Olds asked the city to consider amending the new code for contractor’s license holders. The new code requires individuals who have a city issued contractor’s license to also have general commercial liability insurance. Olds wanted the city to make an exception for landlords who own property and hold a license to waive the insurance requirement if the landlord used the license to work on personally owned property.

But Bill Raymond, city attorney, recommended against that. Raymond said the insurance required for licensed contractors was similar to malpractice insurance by a doctor, covering damages to the property or tenants as a result of poor work done by the contractor. He said that was different from someone coming onto the property and getting injured in an accident, which is covered by homeowners or renters insurance.

Commissioner Rich Jankovich noted that while Olds said he only wanted to work on his rental properties, nothing would stop him from using the license to work on other properties.

Brad Claussen, city building official, said landlords have always been able to maintain their rental properties — change plugs and light fixtures, make minor plumbing repairs, repair holes in the walls, and replace doors and windows — without a license. He said the only things that would require a license would be structural changes that required framing work, heavy electrical work and major plumbing work.

The new codes will go into effect on March 1 with the exception of a fire code requiring better floor joists that are either covered with half-inch sheetrock, made out of solid lumber, or are covered in a flame retardant. Claussen said manufacturers have designed ready-to-install joists that are flame retardant, but those will not be locally available until next spring or summer.

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