Mayor McGinn presented his 2012 budget to the community and to the City Council on Monday, September 26. This was another challenging budget year with an $18 million General Subfund gap to be filled. The Mayor’s proposed budget preserves direct services, transforms how the City does business, and invests in infrastructure and the future.
As many of you know all too well, DPD’s revenues from permit fees hit an extreme high in 2007, and then a very low point in 2009. Since then we have experienced some recovery—a slow but steady growth. You may have also heard the Mayor’s budget speech when he mentioned how the department reduced intake appointment wait times from nine weeks in the spring, down to the current two weeks. We were able to do this using a variety of strategies to add more appointments, including approving overtime, hiring temporary staff, reassigning staff resources, and changing how we process certain permits. Our challenge now is to keep up with our review times, so projects can be permitted and then built, helping the local job picture and improving the economy.
Significant Changes Related to the General Fund Side of the Department
The General Fund primarily supports the Planning and Code Compliance divisions, and part of department overhead. While the department made some significant General Fund reductions for 2012, they were primarily non-labor plus not filling vacant positions. In addition, the Mayor proposed some important additions to support the City’s objectives for climate neutrality and resiliency, jobs and direct service to customers:
- Merge part of City Green Building (CGB) Team with the Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE): Within OSE, focus resources on strategic policy development for sustainable practices. In addition, transfer green permitting staff from CGB to DPD’s Operations division. [Transfer 3.75 FTE to OSE]
- Support Priority Green Expedited Permitting: Stimulate jobs while encouraging deep green development by streamlining permit processes. [Increase 0.5 FTE]
- Support Unreinforced Masonry (URM) Building Retrofit Program: Improve public safety, while helping to preserve neighborhood character and improve the city’s resiliency. [Increase 0.5 FTE]
- Restore Code Compliance Resources: Improve direct service to our customers to respond to code violation complaints. [Restore 0.5 FTE]
- Restore Neighborhood Plan Resources: Support completion of Neighborhood Plan Updates and related community development work. [Restore 0.75 FTE]
Thank you for working with us through these challenging times.
Diane M. Sugimura