It's been nearly a year since the city of Marietta turned its residential permitting process over to Washington County's building permit office.
While that move has not turned out to be a moneymaker for the county, it has shortened the turnaround time for building permits, and has freed up a city engineer to provide needed project management services.
County building official Tony Lauro said as of last week his office had processed a total of 181 residential building permits for the city.
"And as of Nov. 5 the county had received $34,028 in residential permit fees for construction only, and city flood and zoning permits brought in $11,845," he said.
"But out of those monies we pay for zoning ads, and I pay staff gas and wages," Lauro added. "There's no way a city permitting department could run on that kind of money."
His office also processes commercial and manufactured housing permitting for Washington and Noble counties.
At a glance
Marietta City Council turned residential permitting over to the Washington County building permits office, effective Jan. 1, 2009.
The contract agreement between the city and county is currently effective through 2013.
The county office has also provided commercial permitting services for Marietta for several years.
The city engineering department has retained oversight of some permitting functions, including subdivisions, land development, street access (curb cuts), and right-of-way permits.
So far this year Lauro's office has processed 88 manufactured home permits, and 393 commercial building permits, in addition to the city residential permitting.
An ordinance passed by Marietta City Council at the end of 2008 formally turned residential permitting over to the county from 2009 through 2013, although the city or county has the right to opt out of the agreement at any time.
The legislation was enacted after several months of meetings with a task force made up of city officials, local residents, contractors and business owners seeking a faster, more streamlined residential permitting process.
Prior to turning the process over to the county, residential permits were basically all handled by Wayne Rinehart with the city engineering office who struggled to keep up with the workload that required a lot of paperwork and frequent inspections of job sites.
Some applicants had complained that it could take weeks to obtain the necessary permits through the city engineering office.
With more certified staff members, Lauro's office is able to process many permits in one day or less.
Marietta Mayor Michael Mullen said the move has allowed Rinehart to take on in-house management of city projects like the skate park at Indian Acres and overseeing the ongoing installation of Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant curb ramps along city streets.
"This was a good tradeoff so that our engineering department could handle more projects in-house rather than contracting the work to outside architects and engineering firms," he said.
"Residential permitting was the most time-consuming and most technical of (Rinehart's) duties," Mullen said. "Also, the state of Ohio has mandated that all building permit offices must provide certified inspectors."
Rinehart was certified for some inspections, but others, like electrical, had to be contracted out by the city.
"It didn't make sense for us to continue with residential permitting when half a block down the street the county building office had everything in place (including the necessary certified inspectors)," Mullen said.
Councilman Harley Noland, D-at large, chairs the planning, zoning, annexation and housing committee that helped develop the ordinance turning the process over to the county.
He expects council will review the ordinance and agreement with the county sometime after the newly-elected council takes office at the first of the year.
"This has turned out to be a very good move, especially considering the speed with which permits are now granted," Noland said.
"Secondly, the city's engineering staff could be reorganized to manage more projects," he added. "Now we have licensed engineers doing engineering jobs and not performing nickel-and-dime permitting work."
He noted that council still maintains control over the process through setting the laws by which residential permits are issued.
Lauro said his office files monthly reports on permitting activity with the city safety-service director.