City splits duties, fills building, code posts

Having made the decision to split up the duties of Vandalia’s current code official into two position, city officials filled those positions within the past week.
The council also discussed filling the position of city administrator.
The action to fill the building/zoning official and code enforcement officer positions comes within about a week of the retirement of Keith Meadows, the city’s code official since mid-2002.
Last Wednesday, during a special meeting, the Vandalia City Council approved Mayor Rick Gottman’s appointment of Dan Barenfanger to the part-time position of building and zoning official.
During its regular meeting on Monday, the city council unanimously approved Gottman’s appointment of Zac Kopp to the post of code enforcement officer.
According to the ordinance approved last Wednesday, the building and zoning official:
• Reviews and issues all required building permits.
• Reviews and recommends for approval all sign applications.
• Makes zoning determinations.
• Reviews all zoning related applications.
•Provides assistance to Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Adjustments.
• Conducts building inspections to ensure compliance with appropriate codes.
• Compiles relevant reports as requested by mayor and/or city administrator.
• Attends various training seminars and programs to stay current on building and zoning as may be needed
• Assists mayor and/or city administrator with special projects as directed.
In creating the position of building and zoning official, the city is reverting to the practice that was used when John Lester held a similar post more than 15 years ago.
That means that Barenfanger, as a part-time employee, will be paid at an hourly rate, $20.50, with his maximum hours being 1,000 per year.
In making his recommendation, Gottman said that Barenfanger has “many years of building experience,” including those with the family’s construction company. After working in the building field, Barenfanger worked for the Illinois Department of Corrections until retiring.
“I think he will be a good fit,” Gottman said.
Kopp, who is currently employed as an officer at Vandalia Correctional Center, worked at the Land of Lakes facility in Vandalia prior to operations were discontinued here. Like Meadows, he is a member of the city’s volunteer fire department.
Under the amended salary ordinance approved last Wednesday, Kopp will be paid $47,000 annually.
Also during the special meeting last Wednesday, the board accepted the retirement of Barb McCart, an employee in the city clerk’s office for the past 41 years.
McCart will retire at the end of this year, and the city has started advertising to fill the position being vacated by her retirement (page 11 of today’s issue).
“She knows pretty much everything in the clerk’s office,” Gottman said, talking about how valuable McCart has been as a city employee.
City Clerk Peggy Bowen added words of praise of McCart.
“She has brought a wealth of knowledge to the city, and we will definitely miss her,” he said.
 “She was my teacher, you might say, her and Delores Thoman,” Bowen said. “She has so much knowledge about the city, and she was so good to work with.”
Near the close of Monday’s council meeting, Alderman Andy Lester asked Gottman about the status of filling the city administrator position, which has been vacant since Jimmy Morani left in April 2010. Gottman has served as the interim administrator since that time.
Gottman told Lester that he didn’t feel it is appropriate to move toward hiring a city administrator at this time, due to the fact that his current term as mayor ends next spring and that person is appointed by the mayor and approved by the council.
“I’m 100-percent for hiring (someone), don’t get me wrong,” Gottman said, but if someone were hired at this time, someone else could be elected mayor next spring and chose to appoint someone else.
The mayor said that the city recently had received some applications for the post, “but it didn’t work out and the finances didn’t work out.”
“If I am re-elected, that’s the first thing I would do,” Gottman said.

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