Audit Slams City Building & Safety Program - 8 News NOW

Audit Slams City Building & Safety Program

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LAS VEGAS -- The city of Las Vegas on Aug. 2 issued a report titled Audit of Building & Safety -- Code Enforcement Property Nuisance Abatement Program covering last year that found numerous problems with the program and with related city contracting.

Read the key findings:

* There are inconsistencies in the calculation of daily civil penalties for property nuisances, which include waste, litter, polluted pools, high vegetation, junk vehicles and vacant or dangerous buildings.

"The end date used in the calculation of daily civil penalties varied between cases reviewed," the audit stated. "Management acknowledged changes in methodology during the year on when to end the calculation of daily civil penalties. This methodology is not formally documented.

"Code Enforcement has not formally documented which costs, fees and penalties must be paid by a property owner to settle a property nuisance abatement case prior to the case going before the City Council."

* The city had a list of 13 contractors for property nuisance abatement work. But last year, 91 percent of the work went to only four contractors.

"Code Enforcement has not implemented a formal process for evaluating and documenting the performance of its contractors to determine the ‘responsibility' of its bidders and whether a contractor should remain on the approved contractor listing," the audit stated. Increased competition for property nuisance abatement projects could lead to potentially reduced abatement costs, auditors said.

* The program wasn't adequately monitoring the status of city and state licenses required of contractors performing property nuisance abatement work. Of the 13 approved contractors on the city's code enforcement list, two were out of business. One contractor had a city business license that expired on Oct. 15, 2011, but had completed eight abatements from then through April 16 of this year.

Four of those abatements were awarded by the city after the contractor's business license expired. Two of the listed contractors couldn't be found on the Nevada State Contractors Board website, yet both were used for property nuisance abatement work in 2011.

Two of the three asbestos survey contractors on the city list also weren't found on the state website. Yet one of those contractors did work for the city in 2011. One contractor on the city list had a revoked contractors license and another contractor on the list had a suspended license.

* The code enforcement office hadn't documented what it considered sufficient insurance coverage for property nuisance abatement contractors to carry.

"In order to have protection under an insurance policy, the city must be named as an additional insured and the policy must be properly endorsed," the audit stated. "The city was not named as a certificate holder or as an additional insured on several of the certificates reviewed." The consequence, auditors said, was increased risk exposure to the city.

In response to the audit, city management said it would work toward correcting the deficiencies in phases by May.

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