Johnson said the Commission in July also eliminated the position of zoning enforcement officer and building inspector, which would have been a senior job. Johnson had requested that the position be established, and it had been approved in June, with job advertisement, resume collection and discussion of interviews completed.
"My goal in having a new position was part of the restructuring effort of the building department for better efficiency and service," said Johnson. "[The commission] eliminated yet another position at a time when we're already short two building inspectors to begin with. This is quite a dilemma."
In August, Johnson took steps to offer a temporary solution by authorizing the inspectors for a three-month time period. Effective that next day, the building department began operating again.
"They can operate according to the way their job was before it was revised and amended this past July 19," said Johnson at the August meeting. "That gives time to revise the legal issues with the city and Civil Service Commission."
The lawsuit filed on Sept. 15 asserts that Johnson is the sole entity authorized to appoint Building Inspectors and/or Assistant Building Inspectors on either a permanent or temporary basis. As the appointing authority, under law, Johnson also alleges that the actions taken by the Commission were without legal authority because he did not request such changes to the job duties and responsibilities of the inspectors.
"I am confident that the court will both grant us an injunction and ultimately determine that the Commission's actions are illegal and must be declared null and void. It's truly unfortunate that the Commission has forced this matter into court at a time when we were actually making great strides in improving the Building Department," said Johnson in a statement. "Perhaps this demonstrates that the archaic and cumbersome requirements of Civil Service have little to no place in the new economic realities necessary to better serve the public."