Village hires new code enforcement officer

SARANAC LAKE – The village has hired a Malone resident as its new code enforcement officer.

Mathew W. Steenberge, who’s worked in construction management for Bernier, Carr and Associates but has no prior code enforcement experience, will begin the job with a provisional salary of $37,500. After one year, if he completes the mandatory state code enforcement training and certification, his pay will rise to $40,000.

The village Board of Trustees voted 4-0 Monday to hire Steenberge. He was one of three candidates the village considered from a Franklin County civil service list, Community Development Director Jeremy Evans told the board before the vote.

Mayor Clyde Rabideau said he interviewed Steenberge with Evans and village Manager John Sweeney.

“He understands that we really want him to move here,” Rabideau said. “He understands that if, for some reason, he were not able to pass the code enforcement officer exam, he would have to reimburse the village to some extent. But he seemed like an earnest fellow, very courteous, and if we give him a shot, I think he’ll do a good job.”

Steenberge replaces Tom Worthington, who stepped down Sept. 20 after three years to take a full-time code enforcement position in Jay, his hometown. Evans has been filling in as the village’s code enforcement officer since Worthington’s departure.

Sweeney said after Monday’s meeting the village had to hire one of the three candidates from the civil service list because they were all deemed qualified for the job.

“We had three meetings with (Steenberge),” Sweeney said. “He seems like a bright young man. He has a background in construction. He has served for six years in project management on some very large jobs. His background leads right into this.”

Asked if residency in the village could have been made a condition of hiring Steenberge, Sweeney said only if the village could go “back in time” to before the civil service listing was announced.

The manager said the focus of the code enforcement position will change. Instead of being drawn into other village projects and initiatives, Steenberge will be “more focused on exactly what the position should be doing.

“It’s going to be more focused on apartment and rental (inspections), complaints and issuing building permits,” Sweeney said. “I believe there’s 400 and some apartment rentals here. We need to get those done. His focus is going to stay on those things to start with.”

Other changes will also allow Steenberge to focus more on code enforcement. Evans said he’ll continue to administer the village Zoning Board of Appeals, which he took on after Worthington’s departure. Worthington was also involved with a rental housing rehabilitation program that the village has since contracted out.

“We want him to be as much of a full-time code officer as possible,” Evans said.

Asked about hiring someone with no prior code enforcement experience, Evans said it will take Steenberge some time to get up to speed.

“There’s a learning curve, but he’s young and he really wants to learn and get going,” Evans said. “That’s in his favor and the village’s favor. He’ll also have no preconceived notions whether it comes to code enforcement or how things work in the village.”

Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or