TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL
FROM: DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC WORKS & DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT
DATE: MARCH 12, 2005
SUBJECT: ADDITIONAL STAFF POSITIONS
Consider: 1) Creating a new position of Traffic Engineering Technician in the Public Works Department, 2) Creating a new position of Planning Technician in the Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Department; and 3) Approving a one-time expenditure to reconfigure the workspace in the Building and Safety Division to provide more individual office space and accommodate a slight extension of the public counter.
1. Public Works Department
Engineering staff in the Public Works Department consists of two Senior Engineers, and an Engineering Technician. Traffic Engineering services are provided primarily by a consulting Traffic Engineer. Over the past several years the demand for traffic engineering services has increased significantly. The City’s consulting Traffic Engineer has office hours twice per week at a cost of approximately $90,000. At this time there is a backlog of requests. In addition, from time to time residents have expressed frustration that requests for traffic engineering services had to be delayed until our consulting Traffic Engineer was holding office hours in the City.
Staff believes that by adding the position of Traffic Engineering Technician to the Public Works Department will provide the following benefits:
2. Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Department
On December 12, 2004, the City Council approved changes in the Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement’s personnel contracts. Specifically, the Council approved replacing the contract Building Official with a City employed Building Official, transferring the construction related permits currently issued by the City’s Public Works Department to the City’s Building and Safety Division, and replacing the contract view coordinators with City employed view planners. The recruitment for these positions is currently in progress. Staff recommended the change because it would improve customer service since the new full-time employees, like all City employees, would be available to the public during all regular City business hours and it would provide a $60,284 net cost savings to the City. As noted in the December 12, 2004 Staff Report, Staff intends to adjust the Department’s FY 05-06 budget accordingly and propose that these cost savings be utilized to improve services provided by other aspects of the Department.
In 2003, the Code was amended to require more types of residential improvement projects to go through the Neighborhood Compatibility review process. As a result, since June 19, 2003 (the effective date of the new Code amendment), the amount of Staff time needed to process most residential improvement applications has substantially increased. The number of applications required to go through the Neighborhood Compatibility review process increased from 150 applications in FY 02-03 to 178 applications in FY 03-04 (about a 19% increase). In addition, the total number of applications requiring Director discretionary review (which necessitates the preparation of a staff report) increased from 63 in FY 02-03 to 101 in FY 03-04. The Neighborhood Compatibility review process requires the construction of a silhouette, a 15-day public notice, and a staff analysis comparing the proposed project with the immediate neighborhood, which is then summarized in a written staff report. Given the Code mandated review process, the time to process an application can be relatively lengthy. The median processing time for an application that requires neighborhood compatibility review increased from 150 days in FY 02-03 to 178 days in FY 03-04 (about a 19 % increase).
To compensate for the increase demand on Staff and improve the processing time for these and other planning applications, Staff proposes the creation of a Planning Technician position. In many cities, a Planning Technician position serves as a bridge between an intern position and the entry level Assistant Planner position. The Planning Technician or Planning Tech as they are typically called, usually does not process planning applications but is mainly responsible for providing planning information at the public counter. Staff believes that hiring a full-time Planning Tech to exclusively work the public information counter would free up the planners’ time to perform the necessary site visits and process planning applications more quickly. Staff believes that hiring a Planning Tech with experience in working a public counter would be more reliable than an intern, which typically has no experience.
Work Space Modification
The Building & Safety portion of the Department’s office building has been overcrowded for years. There are 9 desk stations in an area of 760 square feet. As a result, Staff is proposing that that the workspace on the B&S side of the building be reconfigured to provide more individual office space and accommodate a slight extension of the public counter. Expansion of the public counter is proposed to provide more space for the public to review their plans with Staff. Due to the reliance on computers within the last two years to issue permits, two computers and printers have been placed on the counter. In addition, the computers are used to review the City’s electronic aerial maps with residents. Although the counter computers are integral to the issuance of permits at the counter, they have taken up valuable counter space for the public to discuss their plans with Building Inspectors and Planners. To extend the counter and provide more individual workspace, Staff proposes to re-locate 4 work stations to the Archive Room. To accommodate the 4 work stations, Staff proposes to review all of the material and documents in the archive room, determine what is worth keeping and transfer the worthwhile documents to laser fiche so that the documents can be stored electronically.
The cost for the new Traffic Engineering Technician is estimated at $66,000 per year.
Planning, Building & Code Enforcement
On December 12, 2004, the City Council approved changes in the Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement’s personnel contracts that will provide a $60,284 net cost savings to the City. Based on salary survey information obtained by the City, Staff proposes that the Planning Tech’s salary range be equivalent to a Staff Assistant II position, which is $33,506 to $43,514. The fully burdened median salary would cost the City $46,292 per year (including benefits at 36.6% of salary). Given the previous cost savings, the net savings to the City would be $13,992.
The workspace reconfiguration and counter expansion would cost $10,000 and that the cost of transferring the archived material to laser fiche would be $20,000. Therefore, the total cost of the space reconfiguration would be $30,000.
Therefore, the on-going personnel costs would be $112,292 per year and the one-time capital improvement cost would be $30,000.
Director of Public Works
Joel Rojas, AICP
Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement