Hadley to seek new building commissioner and inspector

  • Hadley Building Commissioner Timothy Neyhart visits the site of the town's new fire substation on River Road in North Hadley to inspect reinforcing steel and forms before a pour by Valley Concrete and Construction on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019.

Staff Writer
Published: 1/21/2020 1:30:22 PM

HADLEY — With Hadley’s longtime building commissioner planning to retire in less than three months, town officials are in the midst of determining how the position should be filled and municipal inspections should be handled.

As the Select Board prepares to advertise the opening, Timothy Neyhart, whose last day on the job will be April 16, presented the board a memo outlining the options available, including promoting an alternative inspector to building commissioner, increasing the salary to entice someone from out of town into the position or finding another community with which to partner, which would allow Hadley to add a local inspector while retaining the building commissioner.

Neyhart, on the job for 31 years, told the board at its Jan. 15 meeting that a shared approach might be best, especially with the statewide scarcity in licensed professional building commissioners.

“I really hope that there is a good fit for partnering with the town,” Neyhart said.

Hadley’s building and inspection permit fees are approaching nearly $300,000 annually, which could be used to support changes in the structure of the office.

Under a partnership, Neyhart explained in his memo, a building commissioner might work for Hadley for 30 hours per week at $41 per hour earning $64,000, while the local inspector at 25 hours per week and $30 per hour would earn $39,000.

If Hadley continued with only a building commissioner, at 40 hours per week at $41 per hour, for a salary of $85,280, an alternate inspector would be needed for 160 hours a year at $38 per hour, for a salary of $6,080. That would be $11,640 less than the $103,000 under a partnership.

Either would be significantly more expensive than what Hadley is paying Neyhart, who earned $61,629 in 2018.

Select Board Chairman Christian Stanley said a shared service is a good model, but he is concerned that Hadley is busier than many nearby towns due to the extensive commercial development on Route 9 and modest housing growth.

If partnering with another town, board member Joyce Chunglo said, Hadley needs to have its own designated person.

“I think we ought to be the main base,” Chunglo said.

The Select Board encouraged Human Resources Director Edward O’Connor to get a job description and advertisement out. “The sooner we can get it posted, the better,” Stanley said.

Neyhart’s memo argues for having both a building commissioner and a local inspector, noting that this would give more time for the commissioner to focus on how to deal with abandoned and blighted structures by sending violation letters to property owners.

He would also like to have the town better deal with the problems associated with college student housing that have become more prevalent since Amherst adopted rental permitting. Hadley might need to have a similar system for more control of off-campus rentals.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

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