Pasco County’s growth has been so rapid that its staff can’t keep up with it — prompting the county to budget for additional positions to address the increasing development.
The county plans to add 10 staff members to its planning and development department, two positions in code enforcement and 14 positions in building construction services during the next fiscal year.
“The county is experiencing unprecedented growth at this time. And, a lot of that growth impacts our branch, directly,” Sally Sherman, assistant county administrator for development services said, during a presentation at the Pasco County Commission’s Sept. 15 meeting.
“As we strive to meet the demands of the customers for which we serve, we are also looking to — ‘How are we doing, and can we do it better?’— all of the time.
Along those lines, the branch’s staff put together a survey to gauge its performance, and to identify its strengths and weaknesses.
“The survey went out to over 6,000 customers and those individuals who have literally had interactions with the branch.
It received 644 responses, and of those 517 came from individuals who’d had interactions with the branch within the past year.
“This is the first-ever survey that has been conducted to try and gauge where we are as a branch and the services,” Sherman said.
“What we see this is — an opportunity to set a benchmark, as to where we are, and as we continue to make improvements, how we’re doing. This is anticipated to be conducted annually,” Sherman added.
“The survey captured percentage ratings of various processes that our department offers.
“It rated everything from very satisfied to not satisfied.
Satisfaction ratings, out of a possible 100%:
- Planning and development department: 64%
- Building Construction Services: 72%
- Code Enforcement: 67%
- Office of Economic Growth: 73%
Those taking the survey also were able to submit comments, which yielded additional information for the department, Sherman said. She added: “We’re going to be looking at those in detail and following up with individuals.
Volume is up in everything, from calls coming into the department, to site plans under review, to proactive code enforcement actions, to permits being pulled, Sherman said.
The county has 422 active site plan reviews currently under consideration, she said.
“With our site plan review process, we have pre-application meetings for those. And, right now, those are slated out to January with the number of requests we are receiving for reviews.”
Sherman also addressed the volume being handled by the building construction services department.
“New single-family home permits, as you know, have taken off in Pasco County.
“In 2020, there were 5,741 new homes issued,” she said, adding at that time it was taking nearly 23 days to process a new single-family residential permit.
Over the last eight months, the department has issued 6,317 new single-family home permits, processing them in an average of 8.5 days.
“This is due in part to a great team, working extremely hard, looking for innovative ways to improve service,” Sherman said.
In working with the Tampa Bay Builders Association, the county was aiming for a 10-day turn-around for single-family permits, Sherman said.
“As you can see, we have met that goal and we’ve exceeded that goal. I’m hoping with the changes that we are continuing to make that we will continue to exceed that goal.”
In the arena of commercial permitting, the county is currently embarking on a major effort to streamline its processes, Sherman said.
“We have a team that’s very innovative and ready to seek change to make things better for our customers,” she said.
The county’s inspectors also have been very busy, Sherman said.
“Over the last eight months of this year, they have conducted over 202,000 inspections,” she said.
Ultimately, the county’s new development is expected to result in a $2 billion expansion to the county’s tax roll, Sherman said.
Continually seeking ways to improve
Sherman thanked her staff for its dedication and hard work.
“I see them in the mornings, when I walk in at 6:30, going into the office to start work. They’re not going in early to leave early, but are going in early to meet customer needs.
“We see them on the weekends, coming into work, to meet the needs of our customers.
“They are extremely, extremely dedicated team members.
“And, as we continue to serve the community, in keeping with our strategic plan to create a better community, a better future for all of those involved, we want to continue to do that with integrity, respect, service innovation and service excellence.”
Commissioner Jack Mariano praised Sherman for demonstrating her initiative in conducting a survey about the branch’s work.
“You’ve got a baseline to work with now,” Mariano said.
Commissioner Kathryn Starkey zeroed in on the amount of time it takes to get a pre-application meeting.
“What can we do in the short term to shorten that time. I think we’re up to four months to get a pre-app meeting. Is there anything we can do to help that?”
Sherman said efforts are being made to improve that part of the county’s process.
Starkey followed up: “Is it more planners that we need?”
“We are getting more planners,” Sherman said. “But we are taking a look at how we can streamline the process. We’re looking at it in detail right now.”
Nectarios Pittos, director of planning and development, told Starkey: “It’s a logistical issue, not just with the planning and development department, but also with all of the other departments that participate in the process with us.
“So, yes, you could add, theoretically, more planners to address the pre-application, but you’d also have to double up the other positions in the departments that participate in the process, just to get more than eight or nine pre-apps that we can do per week.”
Commission Chairman Ron Oakley told Sherman: “I appreciate everything you are doing Sally, you’ve made the department stronger and better, and moving forward.
“We want to do it the right way, but we want to continue to streamline, and get it faster and quicker through the system.
“If we were not having so many projects, it would be different, but we’ve got them piled up,” Oakley said.
Published September 29, 2021