Palm Coast – The City of Palm Coast is taking a number of steps to enhance City Council’s ‘business friendly’ initiative following feedback generated at three business charrettes held in March.

The charrettes were attended by 50 people from the Palm Coast and Flagler County area and focused on input from local businesses, building professionals and community development planners. The goal of the charrettes was to involve key stakeholders to resolve business process conflicts and map solutions. During the meetings, the community members participated in live polling, poll-based brainstorming, discussion and breakout sessions to identify solutions.

“Our team really enjoyed the opportunity to listen to our community members and learn how we can continue to improve our services,” said Chief Development Officer Jason DeLorenzo. “We received a lot of valuable feedback and look forward to hosting more charrettes in the future.”

Based on the feedback, City staff is taking the following actions:

Business:

·       Develop a welcome packet with business orientation materials

Building:

·       Develop Customer Satisfaction Survey (CSAT)

·       Provide staff contact information with permit review comments

·       When City staff answer phone calls, identify themselves when answering

·       Include project address in the instant email subject line on permit alerts

·       Allow additional file name information on uploads to help customer file management challenges

·       Provide more detail on rejection comments for online packet submittals

Planning:

·       Provide staff contact information with permit review comments

·       When City staff answer phone calls, identify themselves when answering

·       Provide submittal checklists by application type

The team began disseminating two focused customer satisfaction surveys to building division customers in March and so far of the 453 respondents, most gave favorable marks to the City.

“We found the process to be professional, fast, easy and efficient,” one user stated. Another user commented, “I wish all the building departments were as easy as you guys!”

Many respondents rated high scores for the ease of requesting inspections, the timeliness and knowledge of the inspector, and overall inspection process.

“The overall inspection process - 163 satisfied or very satisfied out of 165 responses,” said DeLorenzo referring to Chief Building Official Patrick Buckley, Permitting Supervisor Barbie Bembry, Zoning Supervisor Tracey Doak, and Chief Inspector Robert Martin. “And that’s why I asked this team to come here today because it’s all because of them. They’re the ones on the frontline making this happen. And those are incredible, incredible numbers that we did not expect to have such high scores so far.”

Future actions could include expanding the City’s shop local campaign called ‘Be Local Buy Local’ to include more local businesses. Additionally, other measures were outlined for building and planning divisions to consider:

Building:

·       Examine ways to refine final survey review and stormwater inspection requirements

·       Examine possibility of allowing clearing at permit application

Planning:

·       Develop planning process Customer Satisfaction Survey (CSAT)

·       Refine submittal deadlines for public meetings

·       Improve model home construction timing when associated with new subdivision site development

·       Consistently provide on-site Progress meeting at 75% project completion

·       Examine possibility of expanding use of performance bonds for project closeout

The Community Development team is charged with growing the ‘business friendly’ initiative to enhance customer service. This includes improving the permits and inspections process through technology driven applications, such as Amazon. The team is developing a baseline and establishing a level or service through user feedback. With these improvements, they’re aiming to educate the community on efficiencies created and customer satisfaction.

Additional next steps include reviewing the level of service standards for other communities, examining customer service satisfaction data and continuing to engage stakeholders on progress.

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