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One-stop permit plan costs slashed by $920,000
The administrative services division for the City of Manteca could move into leased office space at 302 Cherry Lane by March 15 if the City Council approves a plan to implement a one-stop permit center during Tuesday’s meeting. - photo by DENNIS WYATT
A one-stop permit center – aimed at streamlining the public’s effort to secure everything from a swimming pool permit to building a 500,000-square-foot distribution center from the City of Manteca  – may move forward for less than a third of  the original estimated cost of $1.35 million.

The City Council on Tuesday will consider the proposal that involves spending $430,000 modifying the Community Development Department to accommodate a one-stop permit center, moving the Administrative Services Division into leased space, and relocating the city manager/city clerk operations.

Community Development Director Mark Nelson and city staff re-thought the project at the council’s direction in a bid to minimize costs and still make he one-stop permit center happen.

The staff proposes using bonus bucks – discretionary funds paid by developers per home to secure residential sewer allocation certainty – to pay for the project. No general fund money is being touched. The general fund – which runs day-to-day government operations such as police, fire, streets, and parks – is expected to end the fiscal year that starts July 1 with an $11.3 million deficit based on spending and revenue trends examined in December. The City Council has already taken steps that will cut that projected deficit in half.

The bonus bucks in the past have been used to help balance the general fund.

The one-stop permit center has been given top priority by the council. It is designed to mirror similar operations in Roseville, Sacramento and West Sacramento that have significantly reduced citizen frustration and substantially reduced processing time for projects ranging from home improvements to new retail centers. The city has already change procedures that have reduced the permit process time for things such as a swimming pool by weeks allowing them to be processed in days instead.

The remodel will put police, fire and public works personnel in the one-stop permit center to allow the analyzing of plans and specifications quickly. Currently, plans are ferried from one department to another. It adds substantial time and creates potential problems. For example, if the fire marshal sees a design problem that creates a problem for fire safety, public works and other department personnel can be brought into the loop immediately. Now, the plans have to be re-circulated from department to department.

In most permits residents would get, all of the work needed to be done can be accomplished while they’re sitting at work stations with trained city personnel as well as the paying of necessary fees.

The initial proposal called for purchasing a modular building. It has now been dropped from the proposal and necessary space picked up by shifting administrative services off the Civic Center campus.

The construction inside the Community Development Department will now cost $235,000. The remodeling of the existing administrative services building to accommodate the city manager and city clerk operations will cost $25,000.

Community Development will locate five staff members at five work stations in the existing city manager and city clerk offices.

The administrative services will move off site into leased space at 302 Cherry Lane. It is where the information technology division has been located in 2,500 square feet in October 2007. It is in easy walking distance and is kitty corner across the street from the Manteca Senior Center.

The city is leasing 1,800 additional square feet in the building for administrative services on a five year lease costing $117,000.

The information technology space is being leased for $1.50 per square foot. The city was able to renegotiate that lease downward to match the $1.30 rate the city secured for the additional square footage. Westside Office Partners made the adjustment in recognition of the current depressed office rental market. There is a 3 percent annual escalation in the contract.

Another $30,000 will be spent on furnishings for the administrative services.

If the council proceeds, bids will be received March 25 and awarded in mid-April. The move to the Cherry Lane office space for administrative services that includes human resources would take place by April 15. The remodeling for the one-stop center would be completed by June 15 allowing operations to start July 1.

The City Council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers, 1001 W. Center St.