The Sheraton Steamboat Resort is in the midst of a more than $16 million construction project. The Routt County Regional Building Department, which issues building permits for the county and the city of Steamboat Springs, could see technology upgrades or potentially be privatized.

Photo by John F. Russell

The Sheraton Steamboat Resort is in the midst of a more than $16 million construction project. The Routt County Regional Building Department, which issues building permits for the county and the city of Steamboat Springs, could see technology upgrades or potentially be privatized.

Regional building department explores technology, operational changes

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— The regional building department that serves Routt County, the city of Steamboat Springs, Oak Creek and Yampa is looking at its options to meet some needed technology upgrades.

The enterprise software the department has been using for the past 10 to 12 years is outdated, Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan said.

The county agreed to have a cost analysis of the department with city staff, he said, and technology was another big factor that could drive changes.

“We need to invest in a more technically advanced system,” Steamboat Springs City Manager Deb Hinsvark said.

Sullivan and Hinsvark sit on the Regional Building Department Oversight Committee with Routt County Commissioner Tim Corrigan, City Council President Bart Kounovsky and City Council member Scott Myller.

Mary Alice Page-Allen, of Oak Creek, and Janet Ray, of Yampa, also are members along with city staff members Tyler Gibbs, Chuck Anderson and Ben Beall.

At a special meeting Wednesday, the oversight committee saw a presentation by SAFEbuilt, a company that can provide software as well as privatization of building department services.

Hinsvark said it was an early discussion with a lot of "what if" questions.

Some members of the building community saw this as another attempt to split the regional building department that was formed by an intergovernmental agreement.

Sullivan said that’s not the case. He said he talked with Hinsvark at the start of these discussions and came to an agreement that whatever course was chosen, the city and county would do it together.

“Because we have (four) governments involved, every single government has to look at it and decide with consensus ... this is where we want to go,” Hinsvark said about the process for any potential changes.

Sullivan said the options range from the department buying and maintaining its own software to fully privatizing the department. In the latter scenario, he said, the third-party entity likely would have staff members in city or county offices.

There also are possible hybrid options such as using a company like SAFEbuilt for larger projects, to only contract out some tasks or to have the option available for when the workload potentially overwhelms public staff, Sullivan said.

Now, he said, there is a staff meeting scheduled for next week to explore the topic further.

A consultant likely would be needed to handle the technology side of the decision, Sullivan said, but the business end of the decision could be handled by staff.

Staff would make a determination as to what they think is in the best interest of the department, he said, and that would be taken to the oversight committee.

“I don't think you’re going to see any real action moving forward until early next year,” Hinsvark said.

“We will makes some changes to our process that are better for community,” she said. “That’s our goal, but how we get there we’re just discussing.”

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz

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