Mayor Chris Beutler announced today that the Development Services Center (DSC) will receive updated software that will allow developers to access DSC services online. The Mayor said the purchase of Accela Land Management software will save money for the City and developers, accelerate job creation and help enhance sustainability. The City will purchase the software with federal stimulus funds and City bonds, and the upgrade will have no impact on the City's General Fund for the 2011-12 budget.
"Developers need to be able to operate in real time and get services out in the field. through their laptops or their smart phones," Beutler said. "They need these services when it's convenient for them, not when it's convenient for us."
The DSC — a "one-stop shop" for the review, permitting and inspection of development projects — has been in operation since March 2010. It co-locates five departments — Building and Safety, Health, Planning, Public Works and Utilities and Urban Development — at the County-City Building. DSC Manager Fred Hoke said about 90 percent of respondents to a recent DSC survey agreed that the permit payment and application process should be automated online.
The City has used its current software, PermitsPlus, for 12 years, and the company that offers it will no longer provide technical support in two years. The Mayor said this is a good time to purchase Accela because its price is expected to increase. He said the software also may decrease the future need to hire staff in the Building and Safety Department.
By acting now, the City can use $225,000 in environmental stimulus dollars that must be obligated by the end of July. The Cleaner Greener Lincoln program is providing the stimulus funds because online government services reduce the consumption of gasoline and travel time. About $1.19 million dollars for the software will be bonded with the approval of a City Council resolution that will be introduced Monday, July 18.
The Mayor said a 2005 study conducted by Price Waterhouse Coopers showed overwhelming evidence that reducing permitting times encourages economic development. "With competition between jurisdictions for new development dollars, more efficient permit processes can attract investment from other areas," Beutler said. "Accelerating permit processes can permanently increase local government revenues."