Public Meeting on Possible Building Department Oct. 29

By Michael K. Yerman, Community Development Director

Over the past several weeks, there have been several articles in the Mountain Mail about the possibility of the City operating its own Building Department.  This proposal was brought forward for City Council consideration in an effort to look for ways to help expedite the building process for applicants within the City and to address customer and level of service concerns.

The Community Development Department is carefully exploring all options and budgetary obligations. We want to have a constructive dialogue with the development community prior to Council considering creation of a new department.

The City is hosting a discussion on Monday October 29, 2012 at 8:30 am at the Salida SteamPlant Annex. The topic will be whether the current building department customer service and responsiveness is meeting the needs of the City’s development community. The discussion may also include possible paths to improvement.  I would like to invite the development community as well as interested members of the public to attend.

Over the past year, the City has looked at ways of helping to improve the development process for applicants and to create expedited review procedures.  City Council just approved an update to the City’s land use code which has reduced the timeline for development in the city.  This update will hopefully help to alleviate delays in the development process which can be costly for potential developers.

Building and development represents a large part of the City’s economy.  From jobs that are provided during the construction process to the creation of a successful new business creating new jobs and sales tax in the City.  Salida’s built environment is also one of its many assets that attract visitors to the community.  The successful completion of development projects is the primary function of the Community Development Department.

The recent recession has been especially difficult on this industry.  Projects such as the construction of the Wastewater Treatment Plant, expansions at the Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center campus, Monarch Mountain lodge expansion, and the new High School created new jobs and sustained this economy at a much needed time during the recent recession.

At this time, the City is continuing to see an uptick in development applications.  To meet the growing demand, the City is investigating ways of providing improved building services.  One possibility is the creation of a City Building Department. This would require two additional staff which would be funded primarily by building permit fees.  An increase in building permit fees would be required for there not to be a subsidy from the City’s general fund.

This additional staff would be responsible for administering building permits, plan reviews, inspections, and enforcement.  During slow periods of development, they would also be able to assist with business inspections.

Please plan to attend the discussion on Monday or contact me at City Hall.