Forsyth's planning staff to get three new hires

Increased revenue in dept. to cover positions

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FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Three new positions will soon open up in the Planning and Community Development Department.

At a work session June 11, Forsyth County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to adjust by $127,000 their mid-year 2013 budget to include three new staff members to the planning department. In addition, the department has increased their revenue to cover the new hires.

“We’ve seen a fairly significant increase in permit activity,” said Planning and Community Development Director Tom Brown.

The three jobs include an administrative specialist that will pay about $27,000 per year; and two building field inspectors that will pay about $35,000 per year. But with benefits, supplies and everything else, the total cost for the three new hires is $127,000.

Brown asked the board to increase the planning department’s budget by that same amount to cover the expense of the three new positions.

In 2009, the county experienced a low point — 849 residential permits, Brown said. The department was downsized to 37 employees from 65 employees in the peak of growth — 2,927 permits issued in 2007.

In 2012, residential and commercial permits began to take off again with 2,298 permits issued, Brown said, nearly doubling numbers experienced in 2011 — 1,187.

“So far this year, we are not on track to double 2012, but we are at a quicker pace right now than we were in 2012,” Brown said.

Over 16 years, Brown said the growth appears to be above average.

Building inspections, which are performed by staff and third-party engineers, have been a challenge for county staff.

It takes about three days before someone can be make it out for an inspection, this forces some customers to wait and it also incentivizes other customers to use a third-party inspector.

“Last month alone, we processed 1,000 third-party inspections,” Brown said.

That’s 1,000 inspections the county didn’t have to go out and do, but it’s 1,000 inspection paperwork with faxes, scanning and digitizing.

“What we are saving on the inspection side is costing us on the administrative side,” Brown said.