As the slow recovery from Superstorm Sandy continues in its third year, the number of building permits issued by Brick Township in 2014 were down by 14 percent compared to the prior year, but the value of the improvements and rebuilds people undertook last year soared by 39 percent.
Brick Township, in 2014, collected $1,798,383 in permit fees for property owners in town to complete projects that had a collective value of $104 million, said Daniel Newman, the township’s construction code official. Brick raised many of its permit fees about halfway through the year, contributing to 29 percent increase in revenue. The township also collected $30,585 in permit fees from Lavallette, which uses Brick’s permitting officers under a shared services agreement.
Between salaries, benefits and operating costs, the building division’s expenses for 2014 were $1,033,610, representing positive cash flow given the revenue. Improving the division’s financial footing was an early goal of Mayor John Ducey, who supported raising fees for the first time since 2005. Ducey also provided an amnesty period for residents who completed construction projects without permits before the rate hike took place.
The department had previously been losing about $400,000 per year as Brick was using Toms River’s construction officials under a shared services agreement.
Newman said his division will look to hire an additional inspector this year for code enforcement, which has also been stepped up. Township officials investigated 819 code enforcement cases that were referred by residents in 2014, issued 3,040 violation notices and took 111 cases to municipal court. The inspectors also conducted 1,364 rental inspections to ensure the units complied with safety and fire codes.
In 2015, Newman said the department will look to demolish some abandoned properties under an ordinance that was adopted last year by the township council that enables officials to utilize the provisions of a state law to tear down blighted or abandoned buildings. Brick’s Property Maintenance Board is now actively investigating homes that are abandoned.
“The Property Maintenance Board has a very large increase in abandoned and dilapidated structures on its agenda,” Newman said.
Newman is asking the township to budget approximately $40,000 for demolitions this year, all of which will be recouped through liens placed on the torn-down properties.
The department may also adopt a revised building code this year, replacing the 2006 code that is currently on the books.