County building codes library costs are reduced

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BERRIEN COUNTY — At least 30 townships, cities and villages in Berrien County will save big on a state-mandated library.

Municipalities within the county, specifically those that enforce building codes, were mandated by the State of the Bureau of Construction Codes last year to station a building codes library.

The 30 municipalities formed a coalition in order to share the costs and ownership of one library, which would house documents stating the standards that represent building, electrical and plumbing codes for each community.

The building codes library was initially slated to cost participating governmental units a collaborative amount of $30,000. After extensive discussions with the state and county, it will now cost $7,500 – each municipality’s share of the cost is reduced from $1,000 to $250.

Benton Township Director of Inspections Tom Baldwin said they took some of the standards that were not applicable to smaller municipalities and narrowed it down to what they needed locally.

“We got every jurisdiction that does code enforcement to sign onto it,” he said. “It worked out well for us and we are excited.”

Another reason for the amount of savings came when the county agreed to provide space for the library in the county administration building in St. Joseph.

Berrien County Administrator Bill Wolf said it was an easy decision to help several municipalities form a central depository.

“We were going to put it in a separate room in the basement, but decided to leave it in a room with a copier and someone to administer to it,” Wolf said. “When we got an idea for how much space was required, I took it to the board of commissioners for approval. On behalf of the board, we welcome these opportunities to work with the local units to save everybody money.”

Baldwin said the coalition of governmental units made this possible by meeting every month. In the next month or so, he said the townships, cities and villages will have all the books in place.

“We broke it down to what it would take to make all this operational,” Baldwin said. “I’ve been in local government for 35 years and this was probably the most cooperation between governments I have seen. It’s an exciting moment for all the communities in Berrien County.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Sept. 10, 2015)

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