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Published: Saturday, 10/3/2009

3 Wood County inspectors face layoffs as revenues dip

BOWLING GREEN - After watching the number of building permits and inspections plummet all year, Wood County officials said they will lay off three inspectors in the building inspection department and reduce the hours and wages of others.

Plans to reorganize the building inspection department, which will reduce its staff from 18 full-time employees to 10 full-time and four part-time workers, were explained to employees Thursday.

County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said layoff notices would be handed out on Monday to a building inspector, a plumbing inspector, and a part-time master plans examiner. Their last day of work will be Oct. 30.

The hours of three other full-time inspectors will be reduced to part-time, and the department's clerical staff of four full-time workers will drop to two full-time and one part-time worker, said Michael Rudey, chief building official for the county.

Mr. Rudey said the number of inspections and permits has been dropping steadily since 2006 when the economy began to suffer and new home construction and remodeling projects fell off significantly. The loss of business has had a corresponding drop in revenues for the building department, which in the past had been self-sustaining.

As of Sept. 30, income has been $618,987 compared with expenses of $959,798. Mr. Rudey said he has been working without success to attract more business for the inspection department, which currently performs residential inspections in Wood County as well as commercial inspections in Wood, Hancock, and Henry counties.

Mr. Rudey said the reorganization and layoffs are expected to save about $385,000 over 12 months.

Other than restructuring and reducing staff and hours at Wood Haven Health Care, the county-owned nursing home, earlier this year, the layoffs were the first in county government to result from the poor economy.

"We're hoping not to make any more adjustments," Mr. Rudey said. "At this point, we hope it can be status quo and even come back."

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