2012-04-04 / Front Page

Electricians Connect with Board at Workshop

by ANNIE CHESNUT
 Three Philipstown electrical contractors and most of the Town Board (councilman John Van Tassel was away) gathered on Wednesday to shed light on permit and inspection issues with Kevin Donohue, the Town’s Code Enforcement Officer.
The PCN&R heard through the wires some unconfirmed reports that there might be discussion of Donohue’s taking over the inspection process for electrical work, which is currently handled through the County by several appointed contractors. But documents obtained from the Town Clerk through a Freedom of Information Law request indicated only that Donohue had met wth the County Board of Electrical Examiners, chaired by Philipstown electrician Andrew Pidala, and was asked by the Board to work directly with the Legislature and the County Executive in preparing any new inter-municipal agreements.
Present at Wednesday’s brief meeting were Pidala and fellow electrical contractors Tony Ricci and Pete Giachinta. The discussion centered around the County and the Town’s roles in both permitting and inspection of electrical projects—which can range from exchanging one fixture for another to the more complicated wiring of entire new buildings, or potentially dangerous devices such as water heaters and outdoor generators. 
Pidala explained that the County currently sub-contracts the inspection process to several vendors who are experts in the field, and “always going to school” to remain current on state-of-the-art electrical practices. All three electricians agreed that the current County oversight is both well handled and valuable. Liability issues were cited a number of times throughout the discussion as key considerations, since the approval of a project that is actually wired poorly could spark huge financial, not to mention physical, damage.
Donohue told the group that the inter-municipal agreement will “spell out what we’re doing and what the County’s doing as a service.”
There were also a number of questions from the contractors about the current fee structure, which everyone admitted might benefit from some fine-tuning, especially with regard to small, low-budget projects. Donohue will be meeting with councilmen Dave Merandy and John Van Tassel, both of whom are building contractors, to discuss fees as well as the specifics of a proposed agreement and then approach the County about an interim agreement, which will precede a permanent one.
Supervisor Richard Shea, also a contractor, summed it up by saying, “Clarity. Everybody needs clarity.”

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