Asbury Park Press: State laying off code inspectors

Christie to privatize jobs of those who check multi-dwelling housing

March 26, 2011- Nearly 30 code inspectors are being laid off by the state, a reduction apparently driven by a lack of construction in New Jersey affecting a function two panels have advised Gov. Chris Christie to privatize.

Gerald Newsome, vice president of International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 195, said the Christie administration told the union a few weeks ago that layoffs would be needed for economic reasons.

Newsome said the layoffs — being determined by the employees' specialization, not seniority, as approved by the Civil Service Commission two weeks ago — primarily affect housing and multiple-dwelling inspectors. He said the state said revenues from fees have dropped by nearly $2 million in recent years.

"Their position was that those two fields, because new construction is down right now, they don't need those inspectors," Newsome said. "They did need the inspectors for carnival rides, Great Adventure and things like that, so they circumvented seniority and are laying off people with different certifications."

The state enforces building codes in 37 municipalities that do not have local code officials and waive permit fees in exchange for not having to hire inspectors locally. The state also inspects elevators, hotels, motels and multiple dwellings in more than 450 of the state's 566 municipalities.

Roughly half of the state's code inspectors are being let go.

State officials would say little about the layoffs.


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