PROVIDENCE – A high-ranking official in Mayor Jorge Elorza’s administration has been fired as the city conducts an internal investigation into its process for approving building permits.
Jeffrey Lykins, who has served as Providence’s director of inspections and standards since 2009, confirmed he was terminated on Jan. 9, but said he wasn’t given a reason for his firing.
“They weren’t very forthcoming,” Lykins said Monday when reached by telephone.
A spokesperson for Elorza said Lykins is no longer employed by the city, but declined to comment further. The spokesperson also confirmed a review of permitting records is currently underway.
Lykins, who earned $120,000 a year in his job, said he recently assigned a newly-hired building official to review permitting fees, which are assessed based on the estimated cost of construction on a certain project.
He acknowledged that the department has at times had a “culture” of looking the other way when it comes to confirming projected construction costs, which can result in developers spending less on permits.
“Providence’s permitting fees are far and away higher than anyone one else,” Lykins said. “But I’ve never treated anyone differently.”
Between permits and application fees, the city projects it will generate $7.6 million in revenue from the department of inspections and standards in the current fiscal year.
Lykins said he has spent recent years doubling as a city building official – the employee that oversees inspections – because of vacancies in his department, but he indicated he was on track to filling most of the jobs this year.
Lykins confirmed he has already filed an application for his pension, but declined to say whether he intends to challenge his termination. Like most non-union employees, he served at the pleasure of the mayor.