December 10, 2013
Bethany J. Royer
PIQUA — After facing a series of cut-backs over the last few years, limiting the ability to do detailed follow-ups on property and property-maintenance complaints and looking for a way to remedy the situation, Piqua’s health department turned to outsourcing.
“They have the experience and staffing to do that,” explained Gary Huff, city manager, of National Inspection Corporation (NIC) based out of Dayton and now six-months into their work with the city of Piqua on maintenance and zoning issues.
According to Huff, outsourcing has proven to be a far more cost-efficient method than having to hire personnel and purchase necessary equipment.
“It’s proved to be, in my opinion, very successful,” said Huff with Amy Welker, director of health and sanitation, echoing similar sentiments while explaining the number of inspectors at NIC’s disposal has alleviated a backlog and lack of attention to citizen complaints on issues such as broken windows or roof repair.
“Anything that has to do with the structure itself,” said Welker with NIC also addressing parking or signage issues, while tall grass and trash are still being tackled in-house.
Another plus to utilizing NIC, according to Huff and Welker, personal contact with all involved parties to mediate a resolution.
“Sometimes you have to have a delicate hand, getting a resolution everyone is happy with,” said Welker, using an example of a tenant calling with property concerns that a landlord may not be addressing. NIC will intervene and, “take a look at the issue, determine if there is a code violation, and if there is —they’ll work with the landlord, for a reasonable amount of time, to get it corrected.”
Out of 87 cases, NIC has been able to resolve 59 to date with the remainder still a work in progress.
Will NIC stay on at the end of the six month trial period?
Yes, according to Huff, with an expansion to junk vehicles, an area typically handled by the local police department.
“It provides us an ability to not have to put a police officer out on minor issues,” said Huff of a department likewise faced with limited resources, time and staff.