Carrigee quits as DH building chief, claims ‘lies and politics running wild’
By Dwayne Bremer
Mar 29, 2013, 16:32
Diamondhead's building official has informed the city that he is terminating his contract because of "negative accusations, flat out lies, and politics running wild."
On Thursday, Diamondhead City Manager Richard Rose presented the city council with a letter from Bill Carrigee of Carrigee Consulting LLC.
Carrigee, whose company was hired to perform building inspections and reviews, said he will finish work already begun and will assist the city in it's transition period, but he no longer wants the job.
"It has been said that the reason the cost of building is so high in Diamondhead is because of Carrigee Consulting," Carrigee said in his letter. "My wife and I have been stopped at the gas station, grocery store, and other places by people wanting to know why it is so expensive to build in Diamondhead. Some council members are second guessing their commitment to my company and think there may be some company from Louisiana that can do it more cost effectively."
Last year, Diamondhead city leaders decided to outsource the building department instead of creating its own.
Carrigee Consulting, a local company owned by former Bay St. Louis building official Bill Carrigee, was contracted to handle all of the city's building needs.
Carrigee has a similar contract with the city of Waveland, and by all accounts, his contract with Waveland has been a success, officials said.
Under Carrigee's contract with Diamondhead, he was responsible for plan-reviews, inspections and other items.
Carrigee Consulting and the city agreed on a fee schedule for the work completed and a portion of the proceeds was returned to the city, officials said.
Last month, the Diamondhead Property Owners Assoc. complained to the city council that the current fee schedule was too high and that it was an impediment to new construction in the city.
City leaders agreed to get a study on fee assessments and look into whether it would be cost-beneficial to create a building department.
Carrigee said in his letter that he believes the building fees are reasonable, but additional costs and politics are what is causing the problem.
"As we all know, the city permit fees, POA fees, and water and sewer fees add up to a large amount," Carrigee said. "I still believe that the fees charged by the city are not out of line for a city that has no other means of offsetting these expenses. The adoption of the fees straight out of the code book was the best way, in my opinion, to stop people from saying the fees were just made up to benefit the city and Carrigee Consulting. The POA fees are a duplication of fees for city services and the water and sewer fees are more than in other places, but with elections nearing, the politics throw the whole problem on the city. There are flat out lies spoken behind my back. At this time there are two entities trying to run the city and politics is running wild. I will not be a part of politics."
Rose told the council Thursday that there are two options going forward without Carrigee.
He said the city could create its own building department or it could outsource to another company.
"I'm trying to see which direction you want me to go in," Rose said.
"We gave you a budget and we expect you to stay within it," Mayor Chuck Ingraham quipped back.
Rose said there is a possibility of getting a hazard mitigation grant from the state.
If the city can get the grant, it will provide funds for a building official, support staff, and equipment for six months to a year, he said.
Rose said creating a building department would entail hiring a building official, an inspector, and a clerk.
Councilman Ron Rech asked if it would be cheaper to create a building department or outsource to another company.
Rose said he could not answer the question until the report the city commissioned was completed.
Rose said he expects to have the results of the study within a "week or two."
Rose said one reason the current costs may seem high is because of stringent building rules the city has in place.
He said the city required Carrigee to have a higher-than-normal insurance level.
"I have to say, Carrigee is good at what he does," Rose said. "He goes by the book."
Ingraham said no matter which direction the city goes, decreasing standards is not an option.
"We don't want that because it jeopardizes our community," he said.
After the discussion, the council directed Rose to contact other companies which may be interested in the job and report back to the council at Monday's meeting.
"Let's see if we can outsource," Ingraham said. "That stays with what we want to do."
Rose said Carrigee will continue to assist the city until it hires another company or creates its own department.
"He is not just leaving us high and dry, but we need to act quickly," Rose said.