Mar. 3—EFFINGHAM — The Effingham building official’s office has implemented Municity, a software program based in the cloud that will allow them to move to a completely electronic system for filing permits.
Building Official Michelle Lilley explained at a council meeting this week that the department had been looking for an upgrade from their prior software for several years. The overall goal of the search was to find a program that would make the process of filing and storing building permits more efficient.
“We hope the software makes for a more efficient permitting process, more transparent,” Lilley said. “Contractors and citizens can see where it’s at and what reviews are happening. We hope for an interactive review process and more complete records as far as the permitting inspections. We expect it to be a positive thing for us.”
Office staff reviewed three programs, including Municity, before making the decision to go with the cloud-based program. It will allow people to keep an eye on their records in real time, going beyond just the permit process, also allowing them to schedule reviews at a time that suits them.
“(If there’s) a plumbing review, electrical review, zoning review (or) life-safety review, they can see that in real time,” Lilley said. “They can schedule (reviews) on it. They can still call the office and schedule it that way, too, but the software allows them to do it right from their office and be incorporated right from the office.”
User friendliness was a big priority for the office, with ease of use being a key factor in determining which programs made it to the final group and which one was selected.
“That’s how we narrowed down two or three that we did the final evaluation on — the ones we felt were user-friendly to our staff (and) our customers,” Lilley said. “We really relied on Jordan (Budde, a new customer service representative in the building official’s office) to tell us that these were user-friendly and (that) she was able to understand them. Without their buy-in, it’s useless.”
City Engineer Luke Thoele said the system was designed to be suited to the community that it serves. Like many people who connect with the building official’s office, he’s looking forward to seeing how the new program works once it’s fully fleshed out.
“We’re excited about it,” Thoele said. “It’s going to be a win for everyone involved, from staff to owners to contractors to the public.”
In other matters, the council:
—Approved a pretreatment program and enforcement plan for the city’s wastewater. The program and enforcement of the rules are required for municipalities by the Environmental Protection Agency.
—Approved rates for retail and wholesale water use, with an increase of 5% expected next year and for the next four years for retail customers and 2.5% for wholesale.
—Discussed a request from tourism director Jodi Thoele to close downtown streets and parking lots July 21-22 for the annual EfffingHAM-JAM. Streets slated to be closed include Washington Avenue between Third and Fifth streets, Fourth Street from Washington Avenue to Big Papa’s, Fourth Street from Washington Avenue to Market Street and Jefferson Avenue between Third and Fifth streets. The parking lots along the southeast corner of Fifth Street and Washington Avenue and the southwest corner of Jefferson Avenue and Fourth Street are slated to be closed.
Zach Roth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (217) 347-7151 ext. 132 or (217) 899-4338.