Mission making plans to take over building inspection after county says it won’t provide the service after end of this year


By Jerry LaMartina

Johnson County will no longer conduct building inspections or plan-review services for the City of Mission after Dec. 31, and the city is working on a short-term plan to plug the gap starting Jan. 1.

At the Mission City Council’s Community Development Committee meeting last week, City Administrator Laura Smith updated the group on the impending change. The county notified the city in October that it would no longer be able to provide the services starting at the first of the year.

The county has been providing the services to Mission since 2009, and Mission is the only city for which the county provides the services.

Mission’s contract with the county requires the county to give a 30-day notice to discontinue the services, Smith said, “but we have certainly been scrambling a little bit to … try to think about how to approach this.”

“And I will tell you, tonight we don’t have a specific recommendation, because we’re still in the process of trying to evaluate,” she said. “So what we would be asking for tonight is authorization for the mayor and me to execute and make a decision on a short-term plan. We can bring that back to you at the January meeting (for approval of a long-term solution), but we need to have something in place by Jan. 1.”

Smith said she and the mayor were looking at a solution that would cover 90 to 120 days so they would have time to consider whether the best option would be to bring the services back in-house, contract it out or do some of both.

She said she and the mayor had been talking with staffs at Overland Park, Merriam and Prairie Village, and with several companies that provide these kinds of services. Her request to proceed received unanimous approval at the meeting.

Ward 1 Councilman Pat Quinn asked how the other smaller cities in the area provided the services, and Mission Finance Director Brian Scott said that staff members did.

“We’re a little bit different than some of the other smaller local cities because we do have a substantial commercial base,” Smith said. The city wouldn’t be looking at increased fees for the services for the city’s constituents, including business owners.

Mission keeps about 30 percent of the fees for the services and passes on the remainder to the county. Before the county started providing the services in 2009, Mission provided the services through a mix of in-house and contracts with other entities.

“We were looking at an increase in development in the city and approached the county because we didn’t have enough staff (to provide the services),” she said.

The city also recently reviewed its rental-inspection program and rental-dwelling code. At an Oct. 26 work session, Brian Scott said the review was prompted by a state law passed during the summer that requires the consent of a rental unit’s occupant before an interior inspection is conducted.

In 2007, about 50 percent of Mission’s housing stock was in multifamily units, Smith said at the work session, and questions arose at the time about how to preserve the quality of that housing stock and property values. In late 2014, rentals constituted 51 percent of all housing units in Mission. Nearly 2,400 of those rentals were multifamily units, and nearly 350 were single-family units.