Meeting convened at 7:00 at Chamber of Commerce Conference Room. All task force members were present with additional staff from Richland County, the City of Columbia, and the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce. Of special note was County Councilman Norman Jackson. Chamber Chair Mike Brennan, County Council Chair Paul Livingston and Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin welcomed everyone and made opening remarks.
Adam Fogle and Heyward Bannister, consultants for the Chamber and facilitators for this endeavor made opening remarks and handed out the agenda, the task force governing rules, and a primer on the purpose of the task force.
The floor was opened for nominations for the election of the Chairman. Mickey Layden made a motion of to nominate David Brandes as Chairman with a second by Kelvin Washington. With no other nominations, the nominations were closed and Mr. Brandes was elected Chairman.
An open discussion was held concerning the Task Force’s purpose, perspectives from each committee member, and general discussion of purpose. It was decided that minutes of the meetings would be kept and assistance from the consultants to take the minutes would be requested.
Stewart Mungo presented recent data gathered from the City of Columbia on numbers of permits over various time periods including water, sewer, zoning, etc. It was discussed that this information would be gathered for the County as well and that a formal request for this data from the committee would be made similar to what Mr.Mungo had presented and that the City and the County would work together to gather this data in a similar format for comparison.
A discussion of customer service was undertaken. Mr. Mungo offered to coordinate customer service training from several major corporations for a period of time for City and County Staff. Many of the perceived issues may be tied to customer service rather than process.
The County staff gave a brief overview of activities that have been completed in conjunction with the Home Builders Association to review the County development approval procedures. This general overview needs to be summarized in a future meeting. The Chairman noted that while it is an excellent start for the County, all procedures are going to be evaluated and compared against the UDO and Land Development Code.
Other topics discussed included:
III) NEW BUSINESS
c. Community Meeting
• To be held in October during working hours
• Public hearing style
• Need location (Chamber, Convention Center, other, this would be evaluated by the Consultants and/or the Chamber and a suggested location brought for consideration back to the commitee)
• To be complemented by a survey monkey (Consultants to prepare, staff to implement)
• There would also be a survey (blind) of staff with questions prepared by the consultants and approved by the committee. It is important that the staff surveys be blind and anonymous
• Other communities are completing or have recently completed similar evaluations. The committee will divide those communities and do targeted outreach to learn what was done in those efforts
d. Needs from City & County Staff
• Info on building permits (commercial and residential) See attached document highlighting data needs
• Staff Organizational Chart (clarify all titles and responsibilities)
• Key staff job descriptions – focus on staff that have interaction with the public in permitting and business services (zoning, water, sewer, landscaping, fire marshal, plan review, engineering, inspections, licensing, fees, addressing, etc.
• Permitting process flowcharts and checklists – all departments
• Develop terminology sheet
• How much do the processes overlap between city/county and state, feds?
• Customer service training policies (phone call return, email return, etc.)
e. Future work sessions
• Next meeting Thursday Sept. 29 (Ryan has a conflict)
• Future sessions on Mondays from 4-5:30 PM
• Tabled discussion of “elephants” (business license fee, etc.)
• Need copies of Chamber BRE surveys and collection of business complaints
• Need benchmark info from other communities (Largo, Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, etc.)
Requested Data from City and County Staff
The task force is requesting from both the City of Columbia and the Richland County staff data associated with business services. We request the following data be collected and provided in summary form to the committee. If some data is not available, please let us know that it was not able to be collected. We know we are asking for a lot of data, but we believe it is important to understand fully the process and volume of approvals the jurisdictions are processing. Our next meeting is scheduled for September 29. If possible, we would like all data by September 27, close of business, in order to have time to review. Please provide us what you can by that date and what we cannot get, we will discuss at the next meeting.
1. Permits – Water, Sewer, Building, Site Plan Approvals (Generally the more common permits associated with starting a new business where construction is involved)
a. We need permits and approvals associated with water, sewer, landscaping, traffic, site plan, addressing, GIS, flood certification, fire, streets and roads, stormwater, trash, building, etc. that is typically handled through the development services from both the City and County. Need to include Richland County Utilities as well.
b. Number of all permits issued in last 7 days, month to date
c. Number of all permits issued month to date or similar time frame – it could be in the month of August (MTD)
d. Number of open permits for review – i.e. the number on the desks now or in the hands of applicants responding to comments.
e. Number of all permits issued for July, June, May, April, March, February, and January (2011 by month and total year to date)
f. Number of all permits issued for 2010, 2009, 2008
g. Time frames associated with review – i.e. when application was submitted, when comments were returned, time it takes applicant to respond, time to actually issue permit including fee payment. If specific data on this has not been gathered, please provide estimates from staff, but indicate range and note it is an estimate.
h. Required check lists provided to the public and checklists used by staff internally for reviews.
2. Permits by specific type
a. Commercial building permits issued in last 7 calendar days, MTD, YTD, 2010, 2009 and 2008
b. Residential building permits issues in last 7 calendar days, MTD, YTD, 2010, 2009 and 2008
3. Zoning and rezoning applications
a. Number of applications in last 7 calendar days, MTD, YTD,2010, 2009 and 2010
b. For the City, break into Zoning, BOZA, DDRC, and any other special boards
c. For the County, break into Planning Commission, BOZA, and any other special boards
d. Include any special requirements for historical approvals
4. Business Licensing
a. Number of applications in last 7 calendar days, MTD, YTD,2010, 2009 and 2010
5. Other type permits
a. List all other type permits and their # for last seven calendar days, MTD, YTD, 2010, 2009, 2008 . This might be special use permits, food permits, temporary sign permits, street closures, etc. that the committee might not be fully familiar with. Note – we would like to see the most common permits reported in 1,2, and 3 above – zoning, water, sewer, site plan approvals, business licenses, etc. and the less common reported in 4.
a. Number of total inspections last 7 calendar days, MTD, YTD 2010, 2009 and 2008, then separate by type (commercial, residential, plumbing, mechanical, fire, electrical and zoning)
b. What is the role of a housing inspector, commercial inspectors and engineering (site) inspectors? How many inspections have been performed in the last 7 days, MTD YTD?
7. Additional Data (Please provide copies of the following items)
a. Any job descriptions, department mission statements or policies that contain any references to customer service, response times, business friendliness etc.
b. Previous or ongoing initiatives associated with either permit reform or business services reform
c. Organizational Charts of the departments associated with business services or development services
d. Employee orientation training for applicable positions (plan reviewer, desk attendants, phone operators, etc.)
e. Permit flowchart for all permit types – include steps, decision points, etc.
f. Customer service training standards
g. Policies on phone calls, emails, length of time for response, etc.
h. Permit review time statistics over a set time period (i.e. is the response improving, what is the normal duration for a review, etc.)
i. Budgets for development services staff – what is the cost of these reviews
j. Fees collected including tap fees, business licensing fees, site plan reviews, etc. with permits and approvals from the County and the City
The next meeting was set for 9-29-11 at 4:00 pm at the Chamber.