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City aims to enhance customer service in Building Division
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In a sign of recovering times the number of complex construction projects is on the rise in Turlock, meaning the City needs more staff to keep its customers satisfied.

 The City of Turlock Development Services Department has plans to create a Staff Services Assistant position in order to enhance customer service and expedite City processes, but will need the Turlock City Council’s approval first.

On Tuesday, Director of Development Services Mike Pitcock will make the case for the additional position before the Council. Noting that the staffing cuts and a general decline in permit activity in 2009 contributed to the City’s reduced hours for walk-in customers at the public counter, Pitcock said he hopes to have the Building and Planning Division counters up and running from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week come July. Presently, members of the public can only access the department from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

“I really want to do it from a customer service standpoint,” said Pitcock. “It is important for the City to be open to the citizens full-time.”

City Staff are still struggling to process the volume of permits being administered with the current staffing levels, in turn making periodic delays common even during the slowest time of the year “showing that the current staffing level is inadequate for the volume of permits presently being issued” states the report.

While there was only a 7 percent change in the number of permits applied for between 2013 and 2014, the complexity, or “valuation,” of the permits has risen significantly – by 81 percent. The many major commercial, industrial, or residential projects in the works translate into increased staff time. The Building Division’s Senior Plan Checker also retired further expanding the need. In this period of transition the City is hoping to use the funds it would save from the retirement to finance the new position.

The City is first looking to hire internally by interviewing interested full-time City employees, then part-time employees, and finally those who volunteer their time with the City before looking for applicants in the city at large.

“If I am fortunate enough to have the Council approve it on Tuesday, by the time we advertise the position, get through the interviews and all of the necessary processes, I’ll be lucky to have someone in place by June 1,” said Pitcock.

Pitcock hopes to train the individual by the time the customer service window opens full time on July 1.

Also on Tuesday’s City Council agenda:

·         The Assistant to the City Manager for Economic Developing and Housing Maryn Pitt will deliver an update on the City’s economic development.

·         The Council will pick a City of Turlock committee to administer the 2015 Community Grants Program that was formerly administered by the Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Parks, Arts, and Recreation Commission or the Community Development Block Grants Committee will be appointed.

·         The Council will receive a request that the emergency repair of Golf Road construction be awarded to Ross F Carroll, Inc of Oakdale in the amount of $28,300 and to reaffirm the City Manager’s declaration of the project as an emergency. The portion of Golf Road that passes over Highway 99 is deteriorating and drivers are presently being directed toward Lander Avenue to circumvent the hazardous road which is closed between Greenway Avenue and East Glenwood Avenue.

The Turlock City Council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Yosemite Room of City Hall, 156 S. Broadway.