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Mayor says one more housing inspector in 2020 is enough

Posted at 9:56 PM, Aug 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-16 13:53:09-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — One after another, they spoke up.

"With more inspectors and staff, we can make sure a man with disabilities doesn't have to wait two months for his landlord to fix a broken window in the middle of winter,” says Erin Feichtinger, a housing advocate who spoke at the public hearing on the budget Tuesday.

They told the Omaha City Council they want to see the city hire four inspectors, not one, like the city is planning to do for 2020.

"It's truly astounding the mayor's new budget only provides for one additional inspector. This program seems designed to fail,” says Gerry Sullivan.

"That is just not true,” says Mayor Jean Stothert.

Mayor Stothert responded Wednesday, saying over the next few years the focus will be targeting the properties already with code violations, then in 2022, mandatory, pro-active inspections begin on 15 percent of all apartment units in the city. If 20 percent of the units inspected are found with violations, then every unit on the property will be inspected.

"I'm not going to budget positions and pay for positions that aren't needed,” says Stothert.

Last year at this time the city just had six housing inspectors, they now have nine. The plan will be to add one next year, then four more inspectors over the next two years, to ultimately get to 14 inspectors by 2022.

"We are taking our time and setting this program up very carefully, very strategically, we put a lot of thought and a lot of time into it. We're setting it up for success,” says Stothert.

Planning Director Dave Fanslau says they're already interviewing candidates for the open inspector gig, but hiring four people for next year is unnecessary.

"One of the last things I want to do is hire four new people in January of 2020, and not keep them busy and not have them work for them,” says Fanslau.