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Jefferson City Council passes updated building codes

Jefferson City Council passes updated building codes

2018 city budget also approved

August 22nd, 2017 by Nicole Roberts in Local News

The John G. Christy Municipal Building in downtown Jefferson City is pictured in this Dec. 1, 2016 photo.

Photo by Shelby Kardell /News Tribune.

The Jefferson City Council passed the building codes updates Monday that will change the fire codes for mid-sized apartment complexes, modify the tornado shelters for commercial buildings and regulate swimming pools.

The Steering Committee for Building Code Review proposed several changes at the Aug. 7 City Council meeting that would bring the building codes — which govern things like electricity, structural conditions and fire safety — to 2015 standards. The new codes will take effect in 60 days, Jefferson City Building Official Larry Burkhardt said.

The city last updated its building codes in 2011 and uses the 2009 version of the building codes.

The council adopted the 2015 versions of the International Plumbing Code, International Mechanical and Fuel Gas Codes, International Existing Building Codes, International Building and Residential Codes, International Swimming Pool and Spa Code and International Property Maintenance Code. It also adopted the 2014 version of the National Electric Code.

Most of the updates will fill in holes in the current code. But one major change calls for the installation of fire sprinklers in apartment complexes with more than three units. Currently, the city code mandates developers install fire sprinklers in new apartment buildings containing 10 or more units.

"We support the extensive and thourough work of the committee," Jefferson City Fire Chief Matthew Schofield said. "We believe that was the right recommendation and we're very pleased that the council chose to approve the code updates. We think that is a significant step forward in terms of safety of people who live in multifamily residential settings."

Some developers said at the steering committee's meeting they believed the provision would make it harder for them to build mid-sized apartment complexes because of the extra costs of adding sprinklers.

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This provision will not impact existing apartment complexes, Burkhardt said.

Along with changes to the sprinkler provision, commercial buildings will have to construct tornado shelters that can withstand EF-4 tornadoes and 200 mph winds. The old code required commercial buildings be constructed with storm shelters that can withstand EF-5 tornadoes and 250 mph winds.

The new codes will also allow the city to fully regulate swimming pool installation by implementing the most recent version of the International Swimming Pool and Spa Code. Currently, the city code mentions pools briefly under the construction codes section.

Budget approved

Also at Monday's meeting, the City Council passed the 2018 budget — a total budget of over $63.3 million.

The city's Budget Committee approved the 2018 budget on Thursday with only a couple of changes, which included funding a planner position, to the mayor-approved budget.

The Planner 1 position was a priority pink sheet item submitted by the Department of Planning and Protective Services that was originally not funded in the mayor-approved budget. According to the pink sheet request, the planner will help implement the city's plans and allow the department to do more long-range planning.

"We have a lot of things going on in our older neighborhoods and we have a lot of areas not zoned correctly," 2nd Ward Councilwoman Laura Ward said at Thursday's Budget Committee meeting. "We have a lot of plans that are coming forward for us to vote on, and if we're going to vote on those plans, then I think we need to have some staff expertise in order to implement those."

The department had requested $60,800 for the position — $58,800 for salary and benefits and $2,000 for a desk and office supplies. The Budget Committee approved funding $48,000 for the position's salary and benefits and $2,000 for the desk and supplies — a $50,000 total. The committee expects to save money by delaying hiring and pro-rating the position.

In the mayor-approved budget, $50,000 originally funded two inspection vehicles for the department, but those vehicles are no longer funded.

The council also approved supplemental appropriation of $750,000 toward stormwater work for the 2017 fiscal year. When a project costs less than anticipated or a city employee leaves, the extra money is set aside and accumulates. The estimated overage of the fund balance is $3 million. Of that $3 million, $750,000 will go toward stormwater issues.

Ward 1 Councilman Rick Prather said now the funds will be available immediately instead of the city's Public Works Department having to wait to receive those funds in the 2018 fiscal year.

During a Budget Committee meeting last week, the committee approved adding $750,000 towards stormwater work to the 2018 budget, which did not include additional funding for stormwater. That change was removed at Thursday's meeting after Prather told the committee about the supplemental appropriation bill.

Currently $360,000 from the city's sales tax goes towards stormwater.