Investigations

'Extreme' electrical inspection delays will now get deeper look

AUSTIN (KXAN) - The city of Austin's Electric Board says it's creating a task force to take a deeper look at inspection delays on the heels of a KXAN investigation that found amid Austin's growth, final electrical inspections are now taking days longer than they should - even weeks and months.

While the number of commercial electrical inspections has stayed about the same, residential inspections have increased 70 percent over the last five years.

In that time, the city has only added one inspector.

The backlog is now closing in on 700 electrical inspections. 

Wednesday, the board decided to create a task force ahead of City Council approving a new budget to really get clear about the city's needs, and how the department can improve workflow and give accurate timeframes of when an inspection can realistically be expected. 

Customers are consistently being told "someone will be out tomorrow." But our investigation showed that isn't happening. 

The city's goal is for 90 percent of inspections to be done within 24 hours. Wednesday, the board said it sits at 36 percent.  

The board's chair addressed talk about whether the current requirements to hire a city electrical inspector are too high.

"Try to see if there is any way at all we can add some full-time inspectors on staff over here because that's the biggest problem," said Randy Pomikahl. "It's not necessarily the requirements, the master electrician requirement, that's not the problem. You've heard in this meeting, there are plenty of applicants in there to be had but they can't hire them." 

Remember, it's up to city council to approve additional employees. It will weigh different department needs looking at next year's budget.

Last year, Development Services, which oversees the inspections, requested another 6 positions — and got none. 

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