New office idea gets limited support

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A full-service branch of the Calaveras County Building Department is probably needed in Copperopolis, the majority of supervisors agreed yesterday.

But not right now.

At a study session with Ray Waller, county building official, supervisors Tom Tryon, Lucy Thein and Paul Stein said uncertainty surrounding the $34 billion state budget deficit and its possible effects on the county prevents their authorizing spending money for a new building and staff.

Supervisors cannot vote or approve actions during study sessions.

"You've got guts," Stein jokingly told Waller at the start of the meeting. "You're asking for staff."

In all, Waller is asking for a new, separate office in Copperopolis, which he said will be the hub of county growth in coming years.

Waller also is asking for $80,000 to hire a permit technician and inspector to staff the new office, which would encompass all services offered now only in San Andreas except an on-site sewage department.

A full-service office would require at least 800 square feet, Waller said. He also would need $22,000 for a new truck, $4,500 for office supplies and $20,000 annually for rent, utilities and other recurring expenses.

The Building Department now has a small office at Saddle Creek. By the end of this month, Waller said, the operations there should be moved into a new-but-temporary, 300-square-foot office at the Calaveras County branch library at 60 Copper Cove Drive.

But the office in Copperopolis only conducts building inspections.

Thein asked Waller why he couldn't just move staff from the Calaveras County Government Center in San Andreas to the Copper office.

Waller said he already has a thin staff for all the work there is to do. He also said his department's business has not slowed since last fall.

"Right now, we're stepping all over each other just with the stuff we have," Waller said.

The Union Democrat
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