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Sterling updates building codes

In time for ISO review, approval could knock down insurance rates

STERLING – The City Council approved an ordinance Monday updating several building codes that govern construction, alteration and maintenance of structures within the city limits.

Seven areas within the existing International Code series dating back to 2006 will be replaced by the 2012 edition. The 2002 electrical code will be updated to 2011. The international codes are amended every 3 years.

Rex Gaumer, the city’s electrical and code inspector, said there are no major changes in the newer amended versions of the codes, but it was time to make the upgrade.

“We like to be within two cycle codes, so it was just time to bring everything up to date,” Gaumer said. “There are a few amendments, but everything is pretty much the same.”

The Sterling Fire Department and city homeowners could be beneficiaries of the updated fire code. The department has been gathering information for its Insurance Services Office review, and the update could boost its score, Twin City Joint Fire Command Chief Gary Cook said.

“Insurance companies base their rates on the ISO scores, and we should get extra points for instituting the new codes,” Cook said. “The better we do, the better it is for property owners.”

The ISO ratings play a significant role in determining insurance premiums. The rating for each property is included on homeowner policies.

“Many people don’t even know to look for it,” Cook said. “It’s something you should pay attention to, because about 80 percent of home insurance is based on fire.”

The Rock Falls Fire Department and rural departments will be reviewed separately.

During the visitors communication portion of the meeting, Dick Card of Sterling asked a question about the prioritization of road projects.

“What’s going on with Fifth Avenue that’s so important, when there are other areas that need attention more?” Card asked.

The Fifth Avenue project started as a curb and gutter project, City Manager Scott Shumard said.

“There were some other issues after we started working, and so we figured that, as long as we were doing the edges, we might as well do the whole thing,” Shumard said.

That project will use about $500,000 of the $1.4 million allocated for city road projects this year, Shumard said.

Two other road projects soon will be put out to bid. One is on Woodburn Avenue between Ninth and 11th streets, and the other is on East Sixth Street near Lincoln Elementary School.

Also, the council recognized members and coaches of the Sterling High School chess team for winning the Northern Illinois Chess League’s conference tournament and placing 39th among 140 teams at this year’s IHSA State Tournament.

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