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Stark County farmsteads free of building permit fees

Building permits are not required to construct homes on land in Stark County that is classified as a farmstead, according to the county commission.

County Planner Steve Josephson said there have been questions about residences that are built on farmsteads -- which are considered properties that are 40 acres or more where 51 percent or more of the annual income is from the farm.

He said in the past permits were not required for those residences, and he asked the commission for clarification on the issue at a December meeting.

"Between whenever that was and now I hear all kinds of things from people about whether or not building permits are allowed in the county period," he said. "All I'm asking for is clarification and that the board take some kind of position up on the matter, understanding of course that people may not have to get a building permit in this case, but they still have to comply with the county's adopted building code and any adopted codes of the county."

In the past, Commissioner Russ Hoff said anyone who qualified as a farmer with 40 acres or more, was not required to get building permits for work on their property.

"To me, we do not want to inflict anymore fees than what we already do through taxes and such on someone who is a farmer or rancher out there," he said. "And then, force the city to go out there and give them a $1,200 fee for an inspection when if the insurance agent and the banking establishments want it, they can ask for it.

"That's fine if they ask for it themselves because then they can pick who they want as their inspector. Why do we want to force more fees down their throat when it's possible they don't have to have it?"

Commissioner Jay Elkin concurred.

"More importantly, we have young people that are, for the most part, building out there either on their folks' property or a relative's property," he said. "For them, $1,200 or $1,400 is a lot of money, and we want to encourage people to take over the family farm."

Hoff added that people building rurally are still required to get electrical and plumbing inspections.

"So, they are getting inspected already, so why inflict another fee on them?" he said.

Salary discussion

The Stark County Sheriff's Office wants to hire an investigator this year, but the commission will have to decide what to set the salary at first.

Sherriff Clarence Tuhy told the commission during the last commission meeting of 2012 at the Courthouse that the office is the only county department whose new hires are subject to a probationary period. He said the period is six months for deputies and investigators.

When a position opens up this year, Tuhy recommended that the investigator's salary begins at $56,000, minus 5 percent for the six-month probationary period.

Tuhy added the investigator opening and salary has been advertised. Tuhy said he would like the position filled this year.

Because the position is likely to go to a current sheriff's deputy, Elkin said he felt the salary should "be adjusted accordingly."

Deputies' salaries start at about $48,000. Tuhy said moving a present deputy into the investigator position and setting the salary at 5 percent less for the probation period, the salary would be $53,320 for the period.

"Should it be six months or a year and then we reevaluate that?" Elkin asked about the length of the probation period.

Commissioner Ken Zander asked that Elkin, who is the commissioner that is responsible for the sheriff's department portfolio, and Tuhy get together and discuss the salary more before the commission makes a decision on the salary.

Commissioner Duane Wolf asked Tuhy if he had ever thought about setting a salary step schedule, based on position and experience, for deputies and as well as the investigator position.

Tuhy said that using a salary schedule was an idea he had been kicking around.

"I've been talking about doing that for years," he said. "I even brought it up during the wage study that came out a while back, but the guy from Minneapolis who was in charge of the study at the time said he wasn't going to go into the step because he said it was a nightmare, although that is what I would like to do."