SENATE, No. 3026

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED SEPTEMBER 19, 2011

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  JEFF VAN DREW

District 1 (Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Provides for interlocal construction offices through shared services agreement or joint contract between municipalities.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning interlocal construction offices and amending P.L.1975, c.217.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

1.      Section 8 of P.L.1975, c.217 (C.52:27D-126) is amended to read as follows:

8.   a. The appointing authority of any municipality shall appoint a construction official, any necessary subcode officials and technical assistants to assist such officials to administer and enforce the code.  The appointing authority may, by resolution or order as appropriate, set the total number of weekly hours of operation of the construction official’s office and the total number of weekly work hours of the construction official, commensurate with the compensation paid to the construction official.  The appointing authority shall not set the specific work hours of the construction official.  The appointing authority shall also appoint a construction board of appeals to hear and decide appeals from decisions made by said construction official and subcode officials, in the administration and enforcement of the code.  Nothing herein, however, shall prevent a municipality from accepting inspections as to compliance with the code or any subcode thereof made by an inspection authority approved by the State of New Jersey pursuant to law.

     b.    To establish tenure rights or any other right or protection provided by the “State Uniform Construction Code Act” or Title 11A, Civil Service, of the New Jersey Statutes, or any pension law or retirement system, the job title “construction official” shall be equivalent to that job title which, prior to the adoption of the State Uniform Construction Code as provided in section 5 of the “State Uniform Construction Code Act,” entailed the chief administrative responsibility to enforce all construction codes which had been adopted by the municipal governing body, the enforcement of which was not the responsibility of an authorized private inspection agency; and the job title “subcode official” shall be equivalent to that job title which, prior to the adoption of the State Uniform Construction Code, entailed subordinate administrative responsibility to enforce one or more of the following construction codes: building, plumbing, electrical or fire code.

     Any person, in a municipality operating under Title 11A, Civil Service, of the New Jersey Statutes, who, prior to the adoption of the State Uniform Construction Code, held the equivalent of the job title "construction" official or "subcode" official, but who no longer holds his position as a result of a determination that his old job title was not equivalent to that of "construction" official or "subcode" official, shall be offered reappointment as a construction official or subcode official, as the case may be, and shall be granted permanent classified status in such position.  Tenure shall continue for (1) any construction official or subcode official who is serving under tenure as otherwise provided by law on the effective date of this act or within one year thereafter, or (2) any person certified pursuant to subsection c. of this section and who subsequently gains such tenure.

     A construction official or subcode official appointed in a municipality operating under the provisions of Title 11A, Civil Service, of the New Jersey Statutes, who, at the time of adoption of the State Uniform Construction Code, January 1, 1977, or prior to January 1, 1981, had permanent classified status or was employed as a construction official or subcode official or in another position in the unclassified service, shall be included in the classified service without civil service examination in his respective title of construction official or subcode official.  Any individual employed by a municipality, who, in his employment with the municipality between January 1, 1977 and prior to January 1, 1981, was charged with the chief administrative responsibility to enforce all existing municipal construction codes, shall be deemed as appointed to the position of construction official for the purposes of this act.  Any individual employed by a municipality, who, in his employment with the municipality between January 1, 1977 and prior to January 1, 1981, was charged with chief responsibility to enforce the municipal building, plumbing, fire, or electrical code, shall be deemed as appointed to the position of subcode official for the purposes of this act.  No person, on or after January 1, 1981, shall be appointed as construction or subcode official in a municipality operating under Title 11A, Civil Service, of the New Jersey Statutes without having passed an examination administered by the Civil Service Commission certifying the merit and fitness of the person to hold such position; provided that, whenever a noncivil service municipality adopts the provisions of that Title, construction code officials and subcode officials of such municipality appointed prior to the filing of the petition for the adoption of civil service, shall attain permanent status in the classified service without examination.  Any construction or subcode official appointed after January 1, 1981 on a provisional basis in a municipality which has adopted the provisions of Title 11A, Civil Service, of the New Jersey Statutes, may not be removed from office except for just cause after a fair and impartial hearing has been held at the local level, with no further appeal to the Civil Service Commission; provided, however, that such a construction or subcode official may be removed to permit the appointment of a person certified for appointment by the Civil Service Commission.

     A construction official or subcode official in a noncivil service municipality that is not a participant in a shared services agreement or joint contract for code enforcement services pursuant to P.L.2007, c.63 (C.40A:65-1 et seq.) shall be appointed for a term of four years and shall, upon appointment to a second consecutive term or on or after the commencement of a fifth consecutive year of service, including years of service in an equivalent job title held prior to the adoption of the State Uniform Construction Code, be granted tenure and shall not be removed from office except for just cause after a fair and impartial hearing.

     A construction or subcode official, to be eligible for appointment in civil service or noncivil service municipalities, shall be certified by the State of New Jersey in accordance with subsection c. of this section and shall have had at least three years' experience in construction, design or supervision as a licensed engineer or registered architect; or five years' experience in construction, design, or supervision as an architect or engineer with a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution of higher education; or 10 years' experience in construction, design or supervision as a journeyman in a trade or as a contractor.  A subcode official shall, pursuant to any subcode which he administers, pass upon:

     (1)   matters relative to the mode, manner of construction or materials to be used in the erection or alteration of buildings or structures, except as to any such matter foreclosed by State approval pursuant to this act, and (2) actual execution of the approved plans and the installation of the materials approved by the State.  The construction official in each municipality shall be the chief administrator of the "enforcing agency."  He shall have the power to overrule a determination of a subcode official based on an interpretation of a substantive provision of the subcode which such subcode official administers, only if the construction official is qualified to act pursuant to this act as a subcode official for such subcode.  He may serve as subcode official for any subcode which he is qualified under this act to administer.  A subcode official or municipal engineer may serve as a construction official if otherwise qualified under the provisions of this act.  The municipal enforcing agency shall require compliance with the provisions of the code, of all rules lawfully adopted and promulgated thereunder and of laws relating to the construction, alteration, repair, removal, demolition and integral equipment and location, occupancy and maintenance of buildings and structures, except as may be otherwise provided for.

     Two or more municipalities may provide by [ordinance] the adoption of parallel resolutions, subject to regulations established by the commissioner, for the joint appointment of a construction official and subcode official for the purpose of enforcing the provisions of the code in the same manner utilizing the procedures set forth in P.L.2007, c.63 (C.40A:65-1 et seq).

     Notwithstanding an existing contract with the Department of Community Affairs to provide construction code enforcement services, municipalities may choose to opt-out of an existing services contract with the department by providing the department with 60 days notice, in writing, of the municipality’s plan to enter into a shared services agreement or joint contract to establish an interlocal enforcement agency as provided under the provisions of P.L.2007, c.63 (C.40A:65-1 et seq.)

     c.     No person shall act as a construction official or subcode official for any municipality unless the commissioner determines that said person is so qualified, except for the following:

     (1)   a municipal construction official or subcode official holding office under permanent civil service status, or tenure as otherwise provided by law on the effective date of this act or within one year thereafter and (2) a municipal construction official or subcode official holding office without such permanent civil service status or tenure on the effective date of this act or within one year thereafter; provided said construction official or subcode official not having such permanent civil service status or tenure shall be certified in accordance with this act within four years of the effective date thereof; provided further that a person holding on the effective date of this act a valid plumbing inspector's license from the Department of Health and Senior Services pursuant to Title 26 of the Revised Statutes may serve as a plumbing subcode official and a person holding on the effective date of this act a valid electrical inspector's license from the Board of Public Utilities pursuant to Title 48 of the Revised Statutes may serve as an electrical subcode official.  The commissioner, after consultation with the code advisory board, may authorize the preparation and conducting of oral, written and practical examinations to determine if a person is qualified by this act to be eligible to be a construction official or subcode official or, in the alternative, may accept successful completion of programs of training as proof of qualification within the meaning of this act.  Upon a determination of qualification the commissioner shall issue or cause to be issued a certificate to the construction official or subcode official or trainee stating that he is so certified.  The commissioner, after consultation with the code advisory board, may establish classes of certification that will recognize the varying complexities of code enforcement in the municipalities within the State.  The commissioner shall, after consultation with the code advisory board, provide for educational programs designed to train and assist construction officials, subcode officials, and technical assistants to these officials in carrying out their responsibilities.

     Whenever the commissioner is required by the terms of this subsection to consult with the code advisory board and the matter in question concerns plumbing subcode officials, the commissioner shall also consult with the Public Health Council and Commissioner of Health and Senior Services.

     d.    The commissioner, after consultation with the code advisory board, may periodically require that each construction official, subcode official, and technical assistant demonstrate a working knowledge of innovations in construction technology and materials, recent changes in and additions to the relevant portions of the State Uniform Construction Code, and current standards of professional ethics and legal responsibility; or, in the alternative, the commissioner, after consultation with the code advisory board, may accept successful completion of appropriate programs of training as proof of such working knowledge.

(cf: P.L.2009, c.119, s.1)

 

     2.    This act shall take effect on the first day of the third month next following enactment, but the commissioner may take such anticipatory administrative action in advance thereof as shall be necessary for the implementation of this act.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill would allow municipalities to enter into joint contracts, under the “Uniform Shared Services and Consolidation Act,” N.J.S.A.40A:65-1 et seq., to create interlocal construction offices in an effort to promote efficiency and reduce municipal construction code enforcement costs through consolidation.  Currently, while N.J.S.A.52:27D-126 allows two or more municipalities to enter into a contract, not to exceed a period of 40 years, for the joint appointment of construction and subcode officials, N.J.A.C.5:23-4.6 cites the “Interlocal Services Act,” N.J.S.A.40:8A-1 et seq. for contract governance, which has been repealed by the enactment of N.J.S.A.40A:65-35.

     This bill would also allow municipalities that are presently under contract for construction code enforcement services with the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to opt-out of that existing contract by providing the department with 60 days notice, in writing, of the municipality’s plan to enter into a joint contract to establish an interlocal enforcement agency in accordance with the provisions of this bill and N.J.S.A.40A:65-1 et seq.

     The effective date of this bill is the first day of the third month next following enactment, but the Commissioner of Community Affairs may take such anticipatory administrative action in advance thereof as shall be necessary for the implementation of this bill.