The Park Rapids City Council approved a contract on Jan. 8 for a city plumbing and building official.

City Planner Andrew Mack introduced Brad Bail with Widseth, Smith, Nolting and Associates Engineering, Inc. of Crookston, which also operates an inspection business as WS iN-Depth Inspections, LLC.

Mack proposed that the city contract with iN-Depth for its building and plumbing inspection needs.

"I'm really looking forward to working in this city," said Bail. "We have a staff of three full-time building officials."

Mack and Bail noted that the question of appointing a rental inspector will have to be set aside for now, because Bail's company did not have liability coverage for that position. Bail said his company is working on complying with that requirement, and that it only became aware that it did not have that coverage during the application process in Park Rapids.

Bail said it has been a challenge to find a company that wants to cover in-home inspections. "Insurance companies are nervous about the fact that we're dealing with private clients as a company, and it's not going back to the city," he said. "We're going to continue trying to work out a system to make it function" - including possibly switching which side of his company the city contracts with.

In the meantime, outgoing inspector Ron Dick would continue to serve as rental inspector until a separate contract for that position can be brought to the city council for action.

Bail said things will continue to work as they did during Dick's tenure as the city's building official. "If there are any changes or things that need to be addressed," said Bail, "we will adapt and move forward."

After some discussion, the council unanimously passed a resolution approving a contract with iN-Depth to serve as the city's building and plumbing official, with Bail acting as the primary consultant.

Mack noted that Dick continues to assist with such projects as the Park Avenue Apartments, which were cited last August for various building and fire code violations. That project, Mack said, still has some outstanding enforcement issues to be resolved.