Park County is suffering from “an unprecedented departure of staff” within its Building Division and is scrambling to perform its usual functions following the sudden departure of a department head, two field inspectors and administrative staff members.
The shortage of manpower within the Building Division, which falls under the umbrella of Development Services, comes at the most inconvenient time possible, because demand for construction plan reviews and field inspections is at its peak during the summer months.
Making matters even more challenging is that this summer’s new home construction in Park County is occurring at a near-record pace, and the demand for Building Division services is unusually high. The county has responded by contracting out specific functions that are typically performed solely by Park County staff, such as construction plan reviews and on-site inspections.
Under the direction of Park County Manager Tom Eisenman, county officials recently released a public statement to address staff shortages. That statement is presented below in its entirety.
Park County Development Services and Building Division
Fairplay, Colo. (June 21, 2021) – We have had an unprecedented departure of staff, which has caused us to re-think how we can best deliver services to our Home Builders.
We have implemented our strategic plan to use contractual services for construction plan reviews and building inspections. Our objectives are to have construction plan reviews completed between 4 to 6 weeks.
Building inspections North of Fairplay are to be done on Mondays and Wednesdays and south of Fairplay on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
You may be asked to have your engineer or architect of record perform various inspections.
We will be providing “Walk-in Wednesdays” for walk-in plans review for basement finishes, decks, minor remodels (with no new square footage), porch roofs and other simple review applications.
We thank you for your continuing support of your hardworking Development Services Staff.
For editorial information, please contact Tom Eisenman, County Manager, at 719.836.4203 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eisenman candidly discussed the department’s lack of personnel and steps the county is taking to remedy the situation in a phone interview June 21. According to Eisenman, a myriad of factors have been responsible for the departure of personnel within the Building Department.
“COVID-19 caused a lot of people to reevaluate what they do and why they do it,” Eisenman said. “So that’s part of it. It is also becoming increasingly difficult for the county, especially in a scarce workforce following COVID-19, to compete with the private sector in attracting and retaining employees.”
According to Eisenman, the county has recently gone from a staff of four building inspectors to only one. It has managed to backfill two administrative positions within the Building Division and has contracted out for one commercial building inspector and another for residential. The county has also partially contracted out the task of construction plan reviews, according to Eisenman.
Despite the county’s best efforts to replace recently departed personnel, the shortage of manpower has still been felt by many in the local construction and home building business due to lengthy waits for both construction plan reviews and inspections.
One such person is Riki Stenger, who owns and operates Majestic Mountain Homes along with her husband Frank.
“I know the county is doing everything it can under difficult circumstances, but this situation has got to be corrected because a lot of people are being negatively impacted,” Stenger said. “Inspectors in this county are doing very hectic, stressful work, and they are being paid ridiculously low wages that are not competitive with neighboring counties like Jefferson.”
“The toughest thing has been getting inspections done. Budgets and timelines suffer, and construction crews are left in limbo when they can’t be done in a timely way. What used to be a next-day process now takes a week to 10 days. I’m not being critical of the county, because it is trying to make up for the loss of personnel, but this needs to be a priority for the commissioners so the situation gets resolved as soon as possible.”
According to Eisenman, the construction plan review process is taking between four to six weeks despite the recent retention of private firms within the area to assist with the demanding workload.
Eisenman reiterated that the county was sympathetic to those inconvenienced by personnel shortages within Development Services and Building Division and added that adjustments were being made as quickly as possible to remedy the situation