CASPER, Wyo. — The Casper City Council on Tuesday, July 20 adopted the 2021 editions of various International Building Codes.
Ahead of the meeting, City Manager Carter Napier told the council that the State of Wyoming has recently adopted the new codes and that if Casper didn’t adopt the updates, the city would “lose local authority in terms of inspections and so forth in using building permits and all those kinds of things.”
He said that would put the City of Casper in a position where they would be reliant on the state to promote development in the area.
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“That’s the risk we run,” Napier said.
He added that he does not think the state inspection process would be as builder- or developer-friendly as the process the City of Casper staff facilitate.
Council member Lisa Engebretsen eventually voted in favor of adopting the new codes, but said during the pre-meeting that she has experienced difficulty getting a sense for what the changes to the 2021 editions to the codes are compared with the 2018 versions. Napier said the codes are changed every three years.
While Engebretsen claimed that she hadn’t been able to find “even a brief synopsis” of the changes, Napier noted that city staff summarized some of the changes in a memo to the council. The council was also provided with access to a digital copy of both the 2018 and 2021 codes.
Napier said that the changes in the new codes are “for the most part inconsequential.”
Vice Mayor Ray Pacheco said that when the council adopted the 2018 codes, there was some pushback among members of the community. He said that while he understands Engebretsen’s concerns about the difficulty in tracking all the changes to the new code, he said that he trusts city staff had done their due diligence and that in some cases, the council chooses to put their faith in staff on such matters.
Council member Bruce Knell said that he didn’t see that Casper really has a choice in the matter given that the city would cede authority to the state if they rejected the changes.
Council member Steve Cathey said that he does think some of the changes to the code are made in order to generate business for code enforcers.
“They are building an empire by continually changing these codes,” he said.
However, Cathey expressed less concern about the difficulty for some on council or the general public to track all the changes, noting that professionals working in the industry know those changes.
He added that part of building permit fees is to pay for costs of code enforcers to review plans and ensure those plans are in compliance with the codes.
Cathey said that if people “deal with a reputable contractor, you will not get fined.”
Building Inspections Supervisor Dan Elston told the council during the meeting that while there are 816 pages of “significant changes” in the new codes, none of those changes would have a notably adverse effect on the cost of construction in Casper.
He added that in his department’s annual letter sent to contractors, they notify contractors of any changes that would adversely impact the cost of construction in the area.
Elston added that the building codes are available for people to purchase online. The city also has copies available at City Hall.
The council adopted the codes on a vote of 7-0. Council member Shawn Johnson was not in attendance on Tuesday. Council member Kyle Gamroth had briefly stepped out of the meeting at the time of this particular vote.
The new codes the council adopted include:
- 2021 International Building Code
- 2021 International Residential Code
- 2021 International Mechanical Code
- 2021 International Plumbing Code
- 2021 International Fuel Gas Code
- 2021 International Existing Building Code
- 2021 International Fire Code