By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
BENTON TOWNSHIP — A new plumbing code ordinance was recently approved to speed up the process for Benton Township contractors and residents.
During a May 3 board meeting, trustees approved the plumbing ordinance that designated the township’s building department as the enforcing agency for permits.
By doing so, the department regained responsibility for the enforcement of the Michigan Plumbing Code. Prior to the change, the plumbing ordinance was enforced by the state.
In addition to adopting the plumbing ordinance, the township also approved a plumbing inspection contract with Phyllis Centers, to be their independent contractor.
“Before this, we had to wait for a state plumbing inspector to approve a permit,” said Superintendent Elden Piontek. “(Centers) is retired and a former state plumbing inspector. We don’t have to go through the state and it’s more of a convenience for the people taking out permits. There shouldn’t be as many delays.”
The contract calls for Centers to perform the duties of a plumbing inspector at the rate of 80 percent of the adopted fees collected by the township.
The township has similar agreements with its mechanical and electrical inspectors, who work on a contractual basis.
“We don’t have enough work for those positions to be full-time, but this allows us to use their expertise,” Piontek said.
Building Inspector Tom Baldwin said he’s worked with Centers for more than 20 years. He said Centers came to him looking for work after retiring three years ago.
“She was one of the good guys,” Baldwin said. “She’s great at what she does. She enjoyed her retirement, but needed something to fill out her days a bit.”
Baldwin said Centers is knowledgeable when it comes to the plumbing ordinance code. So much so, that Centers teaches some of the state’s inspection staff, Baldwin said.
Since the state covers several counties, Baldwin said Centers will have a better handle on the area. Centers also serves as a plumbing inspector for Royalton Township.
Centers will be paid with 80 percent of the adopted fees that come as the result of permits, which allows for the township to collect the other 20 percent it wasn’t getting before. Baldwin said the township didn’t have to process the plumbing permits in the past, which leaves hardly any of a profit.
“It’s kind of a wash on our side to pay for the paperwork and staffing to administer the permits,” Baldwin said. But it’s not about the money. It’s providing a better service for our contractors and residents.”