With only two issues left before the Marathon City Council election on Tuesday, Nov. 2, Keys Weekly continues to check in with the four candidates and print their answers to questions addressing pressing issues in town. Early voting began on Monday, Oct. 18, and the top two vote-getters will win seats on next year’s council. For more information, call the Supervisor of Elections at 305-292-3416 or email [email protected]

This week’s question revolves around issues faced by those wishing to obtain building permits and streamline the building process in town. The question: Our new building official has made significant progress on permit issuance, inspections, and the new permitting software package. What can be done to improve our building department?

Answers are printed as submitted by the candidates.

GREG COLDIRON: 

Building and Planning Department delays cost us all time, money, and loss of use. In Key Colony you can usually expect your building permit within 48 hours. Why can’t Marathon be efficient, cost effective, and user friendly? Our new building official repeatedly cites “bad software,” ad nauseum, to justify the Building Department’s unacceptable performance. If software is the real problem, then throw it out and start over! 

The Contractor’s Association President tells me that there has been some improvement, but not enough. Licensed contractors divulge that they cannot delay work six to eight weeks waiting for simple permits.  Payroll demands, etc. force them to start working. If they are “red tagged” before finally receiving their permit, contractors simply pay the fine, which is double the permit cost. Finally, our inspections process is so inefficient and cumbersome that contractors are forced to seek expensive alternative inspectors from outside of Marathon!  

Among my first priorities will be tackling permit, planning, and inspections delays.  Please remember that Marathon is a business which needs successful business leadership. I am Greg Coldiron for Marathon Council. Leadership Matters!

LYNNY DEL GAIZO:

Good management is key to improving the process. I’m thrilled that the building official has made progress in this department. Having the new software should make the application process easier and user friendly. Having qualified technicians trained to assist would be helpful. Being available to the public and inspectors available to help and not just point out flaws to expedite going forward. I definitely like to assist the full time, long term residents to be considered for a better system to get their homes built. Reducing the process time is one of my top priorities, which I will discuss with the city manager, George Garrett. Effective communication is the key to success!

TREVOR WOFSEY:

I think we need to separate the question into three parts. Yes, the new Building Official has made “significant progress on permit issuance.” He accomplished this by making procedural changes within the permitting and review process leading to better efficiency.

The inspection process however is up for debate. If we think that contractor’s use of private inspectors instead of City inspectors is progress then I guess it’s better. But I’m not sure more inspections being done by private inspectors is a good thing. From a policy perspective I’d like to be certain that private inspectors are doing as good a job, or better, than City inspectors on the actual inspections.

On the software question I think there are more problems than progress. In fact, the Building Official has made improvements not because of the software program, but despite the software program. That is the area that needs the most attention.

LUIS GONZALEZ: 

The work that has been done thus far from our new building official has improved our permitting system tremendously. From permit issuance to inspections and the new software we have seen some major progress. 

To continue to improve our building department, we need to continue to build on the progress, strengthen all of those areas, and continue making the system more user friendly and glitch free. In addition, we need to ensure that when permit applications are deficient, we respond to the applicant in a timely manner and state clear, defined concerns and work with the applicant to make the application sufficient. We also need to make sure we are answering citizen calls and/or email requests in a timely fashion. 

I feel that the building official should have a strong relationship with the contractors association. There should be quarterly meetings so that the association can discuss any issues or concerns. By doing this, we can avoid issues from spiraling out of control.

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