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Additional staff needed in Jackson as construction jumps

An uptick in building permits in Jackson County has prompted the county to hire an additional office clerk to keep up with the load.

A decline in building permits in the wake of the housing bust had led to a reduction in both building inspectors and clerical staff in recent years. But as the number of building permits rebounds, the county needs to replace some of the staff it lost.

 

It’s a good problem to have, County Manager Chuck Wooten told commissioners this week.

“Jackson County is very, very lucky. I’d say that the economy has picked up,” Wooten said.

Jackson saw 124 residential building permits as of September this year, compared to 86 for the same period last year. While it doesn’t top pre-recession numbers, 2013 is on track to be the best since 2008 for building permits, Wooten said. 

Right now, the workload necessitates an additional clerical position to process all the permit applications. By next year, the increase in permits will translate to an increase in actual construction, and an additional field inspector will probably be needed as well, said Tony Elders, the head of Jackson’s permitting and code enforcement department.

Not only has the number of building permits increased, but the size of the houses is also up.

“They are walking back in the door with a 5,000-square-foot house, a 9,000-square-foot house. It is going back up to that,” Elders said.

And bigger houses take longer to inspect, Elders said.

Jackson County has a building permit office both in Sylva and Cashiers. Between them, there are currently four clerical staff and 12 field inspectors.

The salary for the additional clerical position will be a wash for the county due to additional fees coming in from building permit applications, Wooten said.

— By Becky Johnson

 

Building permits: by the numbers

2008: 278

2009: 152

2010: 157

2011: 105

2012: 121

2013: 124 (to date)

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