Health Department permit delays causing hardships

Health department talks of the delays in inspections and permits.

RUTHERFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Rutherford, Polk, McDowell Health Department (RPMD) Executive Director Karen Powell and RPMD Board Chair Dr. Ben Hall brought the Rutherford County Commissioners up-to-date on addressing severe delays in having inspections done at their August meeting last week.

Commissioners stated they received numerous calls about the continued delays as it affected real estate sales, building a home, and affects on local businesses. At issue as well was the restricted hours that calls could be made to inform inspectors of their needs to return.

Commissioner Bryan King asked if the department had considered using a computer log-in to track calls, jobs, and inspections. They had not.

Powell and Hall emphasized the problems with hiring new personnel to relieve the backlog:

  • Currently certified candidates are few,
  • New hires have to undergo  training and apprenticing to an experienced inspector,
  • Candidates are faced with competing higher salaries elsewhere.

Powell did say that pay ranges have increase and signing bonuses are being offered to entice experienced candidates to join the department. She also announced that two new hires were already on board. Commissioner King also asked them to consider the use of a headhunter firm to locate potential employees.

Commissioner Greg Lovelace, who volunteered that he was on the RPM Board, suggested that it might be better for Rutherford County to strike out on its own instead of being a part of the three-county health organization.