“On Tuesday, Camden City amended our shared service agreement to bolster the accountability and management of the city code enforcement department. Back in June 2016, the city signed an agreement with the county to supplement its bare bones code enforcement operation. In fact, at the time the city had just six inspectors to oversee more than 20,000 properties throughout the municipality. Instead of trying to find additional help in the marketplace, Mayor Dana Redd did a cost benefit analysis of bringing on new city employees, looking to the marketplace for help or contracting with the county that already had designated inspectors in the city working on multi-unit dwellings. The most cost-effective choice was to work with the county to grow her operation in partnership with the Freeholder Board.
The reason for the partnership was to build a critical mass of personnel that could take on the slumlords and absentee property-owners that were not taking care of their blighted parcels. Since then, the county has effectively had 15 part-time inspectors working in Camden, side-by-side with existing personnel, and invested in state-of-the-art technology to make the work more efficient and effective. Over the last month, we have identified a solid manager at the police department that will oversee the Code Enforcement operation, so we can continue to eliminate the deadbeat landowners who have been taking advantage of the residents of Camden City for far too long.
Myths vs. Facts
Myth #1: City Council signed onto a new initiative at their Nov. 11, meeting.
Fact #1: This partnership has been in effect for three years with the city. This agreement was signed in 2016 in order to hold the slumlords of the city, who are taking advantage of our residents by making them live in substandard conditions, accountable to laws already on the books.
Myth #3 This agreement was part of a conspiracy to take homes away from Camden residents.
Fact #3: Code Enforcement inspectors will continue to do their jobs as city employees while being supplemented by 15 part-time county inspectors for rental units.
Fact #4: The administration of the department will be done by Lt. Gabe Rodriguez who will ensure there is accountability in case management and that blighted properties are brought up to code.
Myth #5: This will create a version of Marshall Law where police officers will have free reign to come onto properties without suspicion of a crime or warrant.
Fact #5: The county has provided code enforcement personnel with new resources to make them more effective in their job.
Myth #6: Employees don’t have the tools to do the job.
Fact #6: Code enforcement is overseeing 20,000 total properties in the city, 2,000 registered rental units and up to 6,000 more that are unlicensed or unregistered.
Myth #7: This is a county takeover of the city code enforcement function.
Fact # 8: The city was barely able to facilitate this core service prior to its partnership with the county.
Myth: The status quo is fine.
Fact: We’ve made strides since enacting the agreement, but better management will make the service more effective for residents.