Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

DECEMBER 21, 2004 AMENDMENTS TO THE DEPARTMENT OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT’S PERSONNEL CONTRACTS DECEMBER 21, 2004 AMENDMENTS TO THE DEPARTMENT OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT’S PERSONNEL CONTRACTS

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING, AND CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE: DECEMBER 21, 2004

SUBJECT: AMENDMENTS TO THE DEPARTMENT OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT’S PERSONNEL CONTRACTS

RECOMMENDATION

  1. Amend the existing Services Agreement with Charles Abbott Associates to eliminate the services of a City Building Official, include the issuance of additional permits into the scope of work, and extend the term of the contract an additional 2 years to June 30, 2007;
  2. Adopt Resolution No. 2004-__, creating a certain salary range for the new position of City Building Official;
  3. Terminate the existing Services Agreement with Willdan for view restoration staffing services;, while allowing for an adequate transition period;
  4. Approve the addition of a Senior Planner and Associate Planner to the full-time staffing of the Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Department to administer the Department’s view restoration program; and
  5. Authorize Staff to initiate the recruitment for said new positions.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

In order to improve the level of service to the general public and reduce City costs for providing the Department's services, Staff is proposing certain changes in the Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement’s personnel contracts. Specifically, Staff is proposing to replace the contract Building Official with a City employed Building Official and to transfer the construction related permits currently issued by the City’s Public Works Department to the City’s Building and Safety Division. In addition, Staff proposes to replace the contract view coordinators with City employed planners. By implementing these changes, Staff believes that customer service will be improved since the new full-time employees will be available to the public during regular City business hours, similar to all other City employees. In addition, Staff believes that the proposed personnel changes would provide a $60,284 net cost savings to the City.

BACKGROUND

The City has contracted with the consulting firm of Charles Abbott Associates (CAA) for "building and safety" (B&S) services since 1984. The last contract was awarded to CAA in May 2000 and is set to expire in June 2005. The B&S staffing services provided by CAA have always included the provision of a City Building Official (CBO). In 2002, Staff presented a budget policy issue proposing the replacement of the contract building official with a city employed building official. At that time, the City Council agreed with the concept and authorized staff to study the cost saving implications of the proposed change. As a result of the cost study performed by Staff, Staff is now recommending that the City Council implement this personnel change.

The City has contracted with Willdan on an on-going basis for view restoration services since 1996. In April 2003, Staff presented a budget policy issue asking whether the level of view restoration should be reduced in order to reduce overall budget costs. At that time, the City Council agreed to maintain the current level of view restoration staffing, but did direct Staff to explore reducing program costs through a combination of new processing fees, penalty fees and streamlined review processes. Staff has done that and is anticipating presenting its recommendations on a streamlined review procedure for view-impairing City trees and new fees (as part of a City-wide cost based fee study report) in early 2005. However, earlier this year, Willdan submitted a proposal to increase the hourly rates for the contract view restoration personnel. Recognizing the City’s on-going concern with the cost of the program, Willdan also proposed a reduction in the staffing hours so as not to increase the overall cost of the Willdan contract. This prompted Staff to formally study the cost implications of replacing the contract staff with City employed staff. As a result of the cost study performed by Staff, Staff is now recommending that the City Council implement a personnel change with regards to view restoration staffing.

DISCUSSION

Staff is proposing certain changes in the Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement to improve the level of service to the general public and reduce City costs for providing the Department's services. This purpose will be achieved by transferring some of the existing Public Works permits into the current Building Division permitting process - essentially creating a "One-Stop Shop" for construction related permitting. Additionally, this purpose will be achieved by changing the current contract status pertaining to the City's Building Official position and the City's View Restoration division. Summarized below are the proposed tasks and related fiscal impacts associated with the proposed changes.

Building and Safety Services

The building and safety services currently provided by CAA include, but are not limited to, enforcement of the Uniform Building, Electrical, Plumbing and Mechanical Codes; plan check review; issuance of building permits and grading permits; and inspections of on–going construction projects. Staffing levels include one part-time Building Official, who is responsible for enforcing the Uniform Building Code (and the related codes noted above) and managing the Building and Safety Division (which includes a Permit Clerk and a Staff Assistant who are City employees). CAA staffing also includes two to three full-time building inspectors (which varies based on permit activity workload) and one part-time structural engineer (located off-site).

Staff is proposing that the contract Building Official currently being provided by CAA be replaced with a full-time Building Official that is a City employee. In addition, Staff is proposing that construction related permits that are currently issued by the Department of Public Works (i.e. curb cut permits for new or re-located driveway aprons, dumpster permits to allow temporary dumpsters in the street for construction debris, etc.) be transferred to the Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Department so that they are issued by the Building and Safety Division. No other changes to the CAA staffing personnel are being proposed. Staff is proposing these changes for the following reasons:

  1. It would provide a full-time Building Official that is available to the public during regular City business hours, similar to all other City employees, thus providing better customer service;
  2. It would create a more ideal management situation to have a City-employed Building Official supervise and oversee both the contract building inspectors and the City-employed Permit Clerk and Staff Assistant;
  3. It would eliminate the need for construction project applicants to go to two separate Departments to obtain the permits related to the same construction project;

To implement these changes, the existing CAA contract will need to be amended to eliminate the cost of the Building Official services from the contract and absorb the permitting process that will be transferred over from Public Works. In addition, fees will need to be established for the permits that will be transferred to Building and Safety from Public Works so that CAA receives a portion of the fee pursuant to the fee recovery rates contained in the current contract. According to CAA, the cost of providing a Building Official as part of their current contract is $109,000 per year. Therefore, CAA has agreed to credit the City that amount per year as part of a re-negotiated contract. In addition, CAA has indicated that their current staffing levels would be able to provide the services needed to review and issue the construction related permits that are to be transferred from Public Works. Therefore, Staff is recommending that the City Council authorize staff to amend the CAA contract as described, extend the re-negotiated contract for additional 2 years (current contract expires on June 30, 2005), approve the addition of a City Building Official position to the City’s list of Competitive and Management positions and authorize Staff to initiate the recruitment for said position.

Cost Analysis:

The proposed salary range for the City employed Building Official is proposed to be $65,578 to $99,984 per year. This is based on a salary survey conducted by Gina Park of the City Manager’s office.

Position

Median Salary

Benefits (33.6%)

Total

Building Official

$82,781

$27,814

$110,595

Proposed Task

Cost

Eliminate Building Official from CAA contract

$109,000 savings

Hire City Employed Building Official

$110,595 cost

Total Net Cost/Savings

$1,595 cost