With the city's Building Regulations Division seeing a large uptick in workload following the May 22 EF-3 tornado, the Jefferson City Planning and Protective Services Department plans to hire additional staff.
As of June 30, more than 475 structures in Jefferson City sustained tornado damage, said Sonny Sanders, director of the Jefferson City Planning and Protective Services Department, which oversees the Building Regulations Division.
City staff anticipates all 475 impacted structures will require some action from the department, such as building permits, inspections, plan reviews, property maintenance enforcement and demolitions.
An estimated increase of 475 issued permits over the next 16 months is more than a 50 percent increase in Building Regulations' activities, Sanders told the Jefferson City Public Works and Planning Committee on Thursday.
To maintain the current level of service to the public and construction community, Sanders requested the city hire two temporary full- and part-time staff members to assist with building inspections and other support activities. The city could eliminate the positions once the workload decreases, Sanders added.
The two positions would cost the city about $6,600 a month, he added. The Building Regulations Division currently has six full-time staff members.
Between May 22 and June 30, the city issued 74 building permits related to storm damage, with the value of the permits totaling nearly $1.2 million, Sanders said. There were 39 non-storm-related building permits issued during the same period, he added.
During the same time period last year, Sanders said, the city issued 37 building permits total.
Prior to the tornado, city officials anticipated issuing 412 building permits during fiscal year 2019, according to a memorandum from Sanders. City staff now anticipate issuing 650 building permits in FY2019, as well as 650 building permits in fiscal year 2020.
Tornado damage-related building permits will most likely remain steady or even increase in the coming months before decreasing over the next couple of years, Sanders said.
He urged residents and contractors to get building permits before making repairs.
"We've had a couple of instances of roofers taking advantage of people by not doing a complete job of what they're supposed to do, so it's important to get building permits because it protects them," he said.
Sanders also encouraged residents to apply for federal disaster assistance now that President Donald Trump approved a major disaster declaration that covers 20 counties, including Cole. Individuals can call the Federal Emergency Management Agency at 1-800-621-3362 or visit DisasterAssistance.gov to register for assistance. People with speech and hearing impairments may call 1-800-462-7585.
The city also issued 66 contractor-related business licenses between May 23 and June 30, Sanders said, with 18 of those being for out-of-state contractors.
City staff anticipates a jump in the number of voluntary and city-initiated demolitions too, according to the memorandum.
City staff estimates 40-50 of the tornado-damaged structures will require demolition, either voluntarily or through the city-initiated dangerous building process, the memorandum states.
Demolition contractual costs usually range $15,000-$30,000 but the cost could be higher, the memorandum states.
If there are 20 city-initiated demolitions, that would cost $300,000-$600,000, not including staffing and materials, according to the memorandum. The city would issue special tax bills and liens on those properties, it notes.
The city must also pay to dispose of vegetative debris collected following the tornado, Jefferson City Public Works Director Matt Morasch said. The city collected 3,400 dump truck loads, or 16,800 cubic yards, of vegetative debris, Morasch said.
It may cost about $250,000 to dispose of the vegetative debris, he added.