The separate building departments of the City of Ely and White Pine County have been merged into one department thanks to a new “interlocal agreement for shared building official services” that was approved by both the city and county.

Under the new agreement, there will now only be one building department for both city and county residents. The agreement stipulates that each entity will contribute to the new department, with the county providing a administrative assistant, and a vehicle for county inspections, while the city will provide the building official, training, record storage, office space and a vehicle for city inspections. Other items such as information technology support, phone, fax and email services will be a “joint” effort between the two.

In return for providing the office space and building official, White Pine County will pay the City of Ely $17,000 over the six month period that the agreement is good through. A renegotiation of the terms of the agreement will happen in April after the first quarterly evaluation is completed by committee. The agreement is only good through June 30.

Vice Chairman of the County Commission Laurie Carson called the agreement a “step in the right direction” for the county and city after the commission approved the agreement in their first meeting of the year on Jan. 5.

As the Chairman of the interlocal agreement committee for the county, Brett Waters felt that the agreement will only benefit both the city and the county as well as their residents.

“I think it is a really good step forward toward cooperative services between the city and the county and it will provide a nice cost savings benefit to residents of both,” Waters said.

City Councilman Bruce Setterstrom called the agreement is a landmark step in cooperation between the city and the county.

“This council, working with the county commission, is the first time that the council and the commissioners have gotten together and made something happen,” he said. “It’s a small step to save the county and the city money and it goes to show that we can work together.