At Wednesday evening's budget workshop, Attorney Robert Pierce appealed to the Board of Trustees for an increase in his pay rate in turn for increased revenues from building code violation convictions.
Code Enforcement Procecutor Robert Pierce said that since he began working on building code violation cases in November, "there's been a significant increase in the number of cases coming into the system."
"I have my hands around this thing," he said. "There were about 80 cases when we last spoke [in March], now there are 120. Now that we have the momentum, I want to keep it moving."
The village began cracking down on inspections of illegal and overcrowded dwellings last September, after an apartment building caught fire that was found to have no smoke detectors and multiple code violations.
In late 2009, the board appointed Assistant Village Manager Christopher Steers to lead the charge against landlords and tenants who were violating building codes. While Steers has been credited with making strides as the director of housing enforcement, .
Under current law, building inspectors can only inspect a building if a complaint has been filed against the owner, or if the building has three or more apartments.
In November 2010, Pierce was hired as a part-time contractual procecutor to bring code violation cases to village court.
While Pierce said that he's currently under contract to work 25 hours per month for the village, he proposed at the workshop that the village increase his hours and, consequently, his pay.
"I easily having been spending an average of 12 - 13 hours a week, and 30 minutes per case," Pierce said. In the last two months, he said he's brought in $20,000 for the village in code violation fines.
This year's budget allots $32,000 for Pierce's position, which works out to an hourly rate of $130.
"I expect to generate more fines than I'm getting paid," Pierce said. "Based on the current caseload, it would be $6,000 per month, double what it is now."
"The principle objective is cleaning up these dangerous apartments. The people who are breaking the law should pay for it," he said.
Last month, the village released a document detailing illegal housing cases, which Mayor Dennis Pilla called a "."
Village Attorney Tony Cereto said that the village would seek maximum fines for building code violations, in order to set a precedent.
"A year and a half ago, we didn't have a code enforcement system. We have that now," Cereto said. "We're going to be asking for the maximum fine. We're not going to settle. We want that message to get through."
"Let's do it; it's a no-brainer," Trustee Dan Brakewood said.
Budget workshops will continue through the end of April. The budget must be adopted by May 2.