Kurt Sawyer, Mesquite Development Services Director, is recommending the city council not adopt the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).
The State of Nevada has adopted the code as its standard and mandated Silver State counties and cities also adopted the building code, which lays down new rules for energy efficiency in new construction built after July 1, 2012.
The issue was presented to the city council at its Sept. 25 meeting.
“This is another unfunded mandate we are forced to adopt,” a grumbling Sawyer told the council in introducing the public hearing on the issue. He noted that the new regulations would create additional expenses for building new or retrofitting older homes in the community.
Mesquite businessman David Ballweg said the effect is broader than residential construction.
“This is a huge impact on commercial buildings… it’s expensive,” Ballweg said.
Included in the supporting material for the agenda item, however, was a determination from the Nevada Energy Department, signed by Stacey Crowley, Nevada Energy Director/Acting Commissioner.
“The Director/Commissioner accepts (Energy Department) Staff’s recommendations and finds that the proposed regulations are not likely to impose a direct or significant economic burden on a small business, nor to restrict the formation, operation or expansion of a small business,” Crowley concluded.
Ballweg disagreed, noting that Las Vegas has far more vacant business facilities than Mesquite. He said why would a business spend extra money on building new or converting an older facility in Mesquite with so many ready to move into in Las Vegas?
Nor was the city council buying Crowley’s determination that the new code wouldn’t have a major economic impact on Mesquite’s future growth.
“This is government at its worst. I’m very angry about it,” Councilman George Rapson said, adding, “But there’s nothing we can do.”
Councilman Geno Withhelder wasn’t so sure of that. “Why are we forced?” he asked Sawyer. “Who says we have to do this?”
Councilman Al Litman suggested, “We need to test the waters on this.”
That was the direction given to staff: find out what happens if the city rejects the newer IECC version.
On Wednesday, Oct. 3, Sawyer sent a memo to the mayor and council outlining what staff had learned and a new recommendation.
“On Oct. 2, I called and spoke with Stacey Crowley…” he wrote. “I asked Mrs. Crowley what penalties would be assessed if the City of Mesquite did not adopt the 2009 IECC. She replied that currently the law does not allow for penalties, but an update to the law is being brought to the Legislature that does allow for penalties to be assessed.”
That means, Sawyer said, based on his understand of existing law, no penalties would be accessed if the council were to reject the 2009 IECC.
“Due to the impact that the 2009 EICC will have on residential and commercial construction within the City of Mesquite,” Sawyer said, “it is staff’s recommendation that the City Council not adopt the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code or its amendments until the Legislature passes any bill imposing fines.”
The council is to decide Oct. 9 if it will reject the mandate or choose to adopt the 2009 IECC.