Consulting firm to handle Sewickley code enforcement

Monday, May 13, 2019 | 6:00 AM

Sewickley has entered into an agreement with an engineering consulting firm that specializes in municipal code enforcement services.

The move came after Nancy Watts, the borough’s code enforcement officer, informed council of her retirement plans. Borough Manager Marla Marcinko said Watts’ resignation, and subsequent retirement, is effective May 15.

Watts did not respond to a request for further comment on her retirement.

According to Marcinko, the borough hired Watts full-time to handle code enforcement in June 2008. Prior to that, she had served as a part-time employee.

President Jeff Neff thanked Watts for her years of service to the borough in an email.

“Nancy has been a great employee with a long tenure here,” Neff said. “We wish her well in her retirement.”

To fill the code enforcement void left by Watts, Sewickley will work with Washington-based Harshman CE Group LLC.

“This is something that we have chosen to do on an interim basis, as we continue to evaluate, really, what type of capacity is most needed in that department,” Marcinko said.

Council planned to hold a formal vote to approve the company at its May 14 meeting.

“We’re going to be handling municipal code enforcement, so that’s upholding local ordinances. We’ll be handling building codes, which is reviewing and permitting building projects, both residential and commercial,” said Jarrod D’Amico, one of Harshman’s directors. “And my understanding is we’re also going to be overseeing zoning.”

Harshman provides similar services to 16 other municipalities in Western Pennsylvania. The company has a third-party license to provide building code review, permitting and inspection services.

D’Amico said Harshman plans to consult with Sewickley remotely, at least for now.

The wage and benefit schedule of Sewickley’s 2018 budget showed that code enforcement gross pay was $67,663. Code enforcement was not included as a separate line item in the 2019 budget.

Harshman does not charge a retainer, and fees depend on the individual tasks the company performs, Marcinko said. Applicants will pay some of the permit fees.

“Zoning costs are typically covered by zoning permit fees,” D’Amico said. “Code enforcement is billed hourly to the municipality, and building permit fees are paid directly to us by the applicant, so the only thing the municipality typically pays out-of-pocket is the code enforcement fees. Everything else is covered by application fees.”

D’Amico said Harshman CE Group is looking forward to working with Sewickley.

“That will be the furthest north we’ve worked in Allegheny County. We’re excited to come up into the area and continue to broaden our coverage area,” he said. “I think it will be a good relationship for us and them.”