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Covington's Revamped Code Enforcement Seeks New Employees

The City of Covington's revamped code enforcement department is looking to hire five inspectors.
Recent turnover in the department and a decision by the city commission to increase funding for additional staff led to the openings.
"We have new staff, new training, and a new focus on carrying out our mission - all we need are some more inspectors," said Covington Neighborhood Services Director Ken Smith, who was hired in April as part of a reorganization at City Hall.
The city is looking for three code enforcement officers who will concentrate on interior inspections, and two who will conduct exterior inspections. The links for the jobs can be found on Covington's website by clicking here and looking under the Neighborhood Services job listings for "code enforcement officer" and "fire/rental inspector."
The deadline for applying is 4 p.m. on August 10.
All five jobs are part-time, with 22-hour work weeks that are spread over three days.
Smith said the timing of the multiple job openings creates further opportunity for refocus and transition in a division that a year ago was beset by turmoil. "We're slowly creating a whole new way of doing things," he said. "In essence, we're rebuilding this division from the ground up."
Among the changes: 
  • New staff: All three of the City's current inspectors are new to the City since the beginning of the year. The five open positions include two new positions funded in the budget that took effect July 1. All eight inspectors will report directly to Code Enforcement Manager Walt Mace, who has been with the City about four years and in the manager's job for about one year. As part of the reorganized chain of command, Mace also oversees a coordinator. 
  • More formal training: All inspectors are being trained by Mace instead of a fellow inspector, which was the procedure under the City's former set-up. Furthermore, for the first time inspectors will receive formal training by the Kentucky League of Cities as that training becomes available. Previously, City policy did not provide training for part-time workers. All Code Enforcement officers will also be undergoing customer service training, Mace said. 
  • New flexibility: The City will continue to have three Code Enforcement districts, each staffed by an interior and an exterior inspector. The newly funded positions - one exterior, and one interior - will be assigned to problem areas or issues as needed on a citywide basis, giving Mace the flexibility and ability to respond to concerns more quickly and thoroughly. 
  • Smoother process: A couple of years ago, Code Enforcement's records suggested it had many thousands of open cases. But by working with Todd Sink, Covington's Manager of Analytics & Intelligence, Mace and Smith evaluated those records and realized that final action had actually already been taken in thousands of those cases - they just needed an inspector to acknowledge that action and sign off on the closure. The follow-up led to better organization, cleaner records, and ultimately quicker enforcement. 
  • Consistent philosophy: Much of the tone of the division's interaction with residents is dictated by individual inspectors' approach to their work, specifically whether they adopt a punitive or collaborative mindset. In the past, Smith said, that approach varied widely among individual inspectors, creating confusion and lack of consistency for residents and the City's Legal Department. 
"One of the exciting things I've seen happening since I've been with the City is the greater involvement of neighborhood associations in looking around their community and identifying problems," Code Enforcement Manager Mace said. "There are higher expectations now, and people are getting engaged in making sure their neighborhoods are fixed up."
That's part of what makes the job of inspector attractive, he said.
"It's rewarding to see a neighborhood change," he said. "You can see people taking a more active role in improving the livability and look of an area, and you know that you were part of making that happen."
"It's a pretty dynamic environment - no two days are the same, you meet new people every day and you're tackling different projects or challenges one after another," Mace said.
-Staff report
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