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April 25, 2013

Red ink leads to Willow Park cuts

By CHRISTIN COYNE

WILLOW PARK – As the City of Willow Park attempts to deal with over-projected revenues and operational deficits in the budget, two employees were given notice Wednesday that their positions were cut.

The reduction in force affected two development services department employees, the code official and the development coordinator, and is the largest change in the amended budget, according to City Administrator Matt Shaffstall. 

In a meeting following the workshop, the council authorized the mayor and city administrator to publish a request for qualifications to provide third-party planning and inspections services.

Until that process is completed, the city will use an interim third-party company to provide plan review and permitting services, according to Shaffstall.

Shaffstall proposed appointing the city’s fire marshal as interim building official until the city can decide if they want to go with a third party.

While property tax and sales tax revenue has been as much as expected, revenue from development fees has been much lower than expected with few projects in the pipeline, Shaffstall told the council. Revenue from permits and other fees is projected to be about $110,000 less than orinally budgeted.

The reduction in staff in that department is expected to help offset that.

Shaffstall estimated that the city could see about $80,000 annually in immediate savings by going with third-party plan review and permit services.

The process for plan reviews and inspections won’t change for the applicant, he said. Permit applications can still be dropped off at city hall, where an employee working in the courts department will take on some permit technician responsibilities part-time.

Next-day inspections will still be available, according to Shaffstall, adding that many cities, such as Hudson Oaks, use a third-party company.

The amended budget will be balanced, Shaffstall said of the proposed amended budget discussed by the city council in a workshop Tuesday.

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