LARGO – In the past 18 months or so, city of Largo officials have strived to become more business friendly. Now they are turning to a consultant to help them take the process further.
After receiving assurances from staff Sept. 4 that spending $88,995 on analysis of community development functions is needed, city commissioners unanimously agreed to approve a proposal from Management Partners to conduct the work.
The commission, beginning at retreat in January 2011, mandated that the Community Development Department adopt a strategy to improve the development review and permitting processes.
Commissioner Curtis Holmes asked whether “we have enough internal brain power” to figure out where a problem can be resolved or a procedure can be streamlined instead of spending almost $89,000 on a consultant. He said he thought that those steps had already been taken.
“This is where I’m kind of getting lost on this thing,” Holmes said.
Community Development Director Carol Stricklin said the company will perform a detailed analysis of the city’s permitting functions and processes and use factors to recommend improvements, such as interviews with customers, interviews with staff and best management practices.
“They will do a top to bottom review of our permitting process,” Stricklin said, “to assist in making very viable improvements.”
The final product from the analysis will be a tool to assist in the selection of software for development review and permitting services.
“Carol is trying to be sure that she gets a company in here to determine what exactly she can do to improve the situation that we already have now,” City Manager Mac Craig said. “We are nice when they come here, but there is a different way of doing business and making it easier for people,” he said.
In response to a question from Mayor Pat Gerard, Stricklin said the consultants will be examining where the fire departments and public works fit into the development review process.
“That’s some of the complaints we have gotten in the last year,” Gerard said. “They told me I could go and this department told me I couldn’t. So I think that’s a worthwhile endeavor to take a look at that because we tend to look at the space we’re involved in and not go outside and see who else we have to engage in that process.”
Commissioner Woody Brown said that people have to call for permits now rather than going online.
“Things like that would improve vastly with software,” he said.
The city received 13 proposals for the work, ranging in costs from $36,600 to $144,580.