The Heath planning commission has scheduled a June 25 public hearing regarding a proposal to change the way building inspections are handled.

The Heath planning commission has scheduled a June 25 public hearing regarding a proposal to change the way building inspections are handled.

City officials are considering ending a relationship with the Newark building-code department, which provides inspection services, as a result of a dramatic increase in the amount charged for those services.

Earlier this year, Newark doubled the fees it charges builders for inspections outside the city limits while only increasing fees for inspections in the city by about 25 percent.

Heath Mayor Richard Waugh said although the fees charged to builders inside and outside Newark are closer than initially proposed, the disparity remains troubling.

Additionally, Waugh said, Newark charges more for services that cities and villages could get elsewhere.

"They are 30 percent higher than the state of Ohio providing the service," Waugh said. "And that's after the state increased their rates 30 percent."

Waugh and Hanover Mayor Duane Flowers have voiced their displeasure over Newark's fee increase.

Flowers called the hike "ridiculous."

He said cost isn't the only concern, though.

Prior to turning to the city of Newark, Heath had used the commercial and industrial inspection services provided to cities and villages by the Ohio Department of Commerce.

Eventually, Waugh said, smaller cities found they could get better customer service from their neighbors than from the state.

"Newark did a good job over the years," Waugh said. "But the state has learned that customer service is important. They are offering us the same or better service we can get with Newark locally."

Newark safety director Roger Stollard has said the fee increases are needed to keep the department operating in the black.

He said the increases for contractors working inside and outside the city limits would help the city of Newark generate $900,000 in revenue and keep the department operational.

The Heath planning commission on June 25 is expected to discuss a proposal that would eliminate the city's residential building code.

The city adopted a residential building code in 2000. When a local building code is in place, Waugh said, homeowners also are subject to the state building code.

Some city officials, Waugh said, see revisions to the state building code in 2008 as overly restrictive. In an effort to free Heath residents from those restrictions, he said, planning commission members have proposed eliminating the residential code altogether.

In other business, city officials have announced plans to begin issuing traffic tickets on June 1 to drivers caught running red lights via Redflex cameras.

The cameras have been installed to view eastbound and westbound traffic on 30th Street and Andover Road, northbound and southbound traffic on Hebron and Putnam roads, northbound and southbound traffic on Heath and Hebron roads and southbound traffic on Heath Road and Irving-Wick Drive.

After the system initiates a violation, a Heath police officer reviews each infraction before a ticket is sent to the automobile's registered owner as a civil penalty. Violations carry a $100 fine, but because the violation is a civil infraction, as opposed to a criminal act, no points are added to a person's driving record.