The construction industry in Portland continues to improve as the national and local economies gradually emerge from the recession. This has prompted an increase in construction projects and subsequently has increased BDS’s workload and had a positive impact on BDS's financial standing. For example, BDS issued 7% more building permits in fiscal year (FY) 2011-12 (July – June) than in FY 2010-11, and the valuation of those permits rose by 36% (approximately $278 million) over the same period. Building permit applications (an indicator of future workload) increased 8% in FY 2011-12, while the value of those permits increased by 85%.
The additional work and increases in valuations helped the bureau achieve a cost recovery rate of 128% for FY 2011-12 and make significant strides in rebuilding financial reserves that had been depleted during the recession.
In order to meet current and projected workload demands, BDS has begun to hire more staff. Examples of service improvements made possible with the addition of staff include:
- As of July 31st, the Development Services Center is now accepting permit applications and issuing permits for a full day (8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) every Tuesday (these services are available from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon Wednesday through Friday). This change moves the bureau closer to the service level that was in place prior to the layoffs in 2009.
- The bureau is currently completing over 90% of inspection requests within 24 hours of request; the rate had dipped as low as 50% during the worst of the recession.
- Land use review turnaround times should improve too as staff are added in the coming months.
The bureau’s FY 2012-13 budget calls for up to 17.6 additional positions, paid for with permit fee revenues, to keep up with the workload demands. In addition, City Council approved BDS’s requests for the continuation of ongoing and one-time General Fund support for positions in Code Enforcement, Neighborhood Inspections, Land Use, and the Noise Program.