Because of a significant decrease in permits resulting in revenue that is 33 percent below projected levels for fiscal year 2010, Mecklenburg County Code Enforcement has notified its employees that 45 full-time positions will be eliminated, reducing the department’s staff from 175 to 130.

The staff members who are affected by this reduction in force – including inspectors, plan reviewers and administrative personnel – were notified this week. Their last day of work will be May 4.

These cuts reflect a long-term drop in construction in Mecklenburg County. In fiscal year 2007 (the 12-month period from July 2006 through June 2007), Code Enforcement performed more than 372,000 inspections on construction valued at more than $4.5 billion. Since then, the number of inspections has decreased significantly. In fiscal year 2009, 225,000 inspections were performed on construction valued at $2.7 billion. During the first half of this fiscal year, which started July 2009, only 90,845 inspections were performed. Construction value is now down 67 percent, and permit value down 59 percent, from 2007.

Code Enforcement is a fee-funded agency, which means it relies largely on income from fees for the services it provides to fund department operations. Director James N. Bartl said the reduction in force is a drastic but essential measure in order for the department to balance its budget.

“We’re only doing this because it’s absolutely necessary,” Bartl said. “These are productive and highly skilled staff. I greatly regret that it’s come to this.”

Mecklenburg County Human Resources is offering transition services for the affected employees, including resume and job-search assistance. The County also provides an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to help employees and their family members cope amid loss and change.

The reduction in staff should not affect the quality of service the department offers. The staff cuts mirror the drop in business. Inspection response times have remained rapid amid the changes in the department over the past few years, including a department reorganization that is under way this spring. Moreover, Code Enforcement’s technological advances have streamlined the permitting and plan review processes, making them faster and more efficient for customer service staff as well as customers.

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