Steamboat Springs The ongoing construction slowdown has Routt County Regional Building Department officials again considering staff cuts.
While acknowledging that the cuts are being proposed, Building Department official Carl Dunham declined Friday to discuss any details until the issue goes before the Routt County Board of Commissioners on May 25. He said any decision to cut staff positions would be based on the department’s decreased workload as a result of the construction slowdown throughout the county.
The Building Department previously cut 4 1/2 positions in 2009, leaving it with nine staff members.
“Just like any construction company, we have to adjust our size based on the amount of work to be performed,” Dunham said.
The department is an enterprise fund, meaning it is designed to be self-sufficient, with the fees levied by the department funding its operations and payroll.
Late last year, the department asked for and received permission to increase building fees across the county. At that time, Dunham said the department’s fund balance decreased by more than $800,000 during 2009. The new fees took effect Jan. 1, but Dunham said it was not enough to offset the decrease in work.
“The whole idea of that was to prevent this,” he said.
So far this year, the revenue is similar to last year’s with valuations of newly permitted buildings at about $17 million. Dunham said late last year that the revenues in 2009 were about half of the average of the worst five years in the previous decade.
The biggest difference is that in 2009, there was still work leftover from gangbuster construction in 2008. This year, there is no outstanding work for the staff to complete.
“We don’t have that backlog of work doing inspections and tending to all the big buildings that were built during that time,” Dunham said. “We finished those buildings during the course of 2009 and now, because of the lack of applications in 2009, we’re experiencing a drop off.”
The remaining nine members of the staff include administrative, plan review and field inspection personnel. Dunham said the department will prepare for the pending cuts but will not take any other action in the lead-up to the May 25 meeting.
The Routt County Regional Building Department serves rural Routt County, Steamboat Springs and the towns of Oak Creek and Yampa. Hayden contracts for its own building department services.