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New construction demands exceeding city staff

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ  - New apartment construction is booming in Portland. These apartment buildings in St. Johns are among dozens of similar projects either recently completed, under construction or currently planned.In a sign of how the economy is recovering, the City Council will considering adding 18 Full Time Equivalency (FTE) positions to the Bureau of Development Services on Wednesday.

BDS issues building permits and conducts inspections of buildings under construction, among other things. Its budget is supporting by permit fees. When new construction projects dropped during the Great Recession, the council cut the staff at BDS by over half.

But the council has been adding staff back as the economy has improved and construction activity has picked up in recent years. It approved 13.0 FTE positions in the 2011 fiscal year, 26.6 FTE positions in FY 2012, and 29.5 FTE is the current fiscal year.

The new positions will be spread among various BDS programs. According to the resolution submitted to the council, benefits include allowing BDS to fully reopen the one-stop City Development Services Center on Mondays and Fridays. Those hours were cut during the height of the economic downtown.

The cost of the remainder of the fiscal year is $800,000. The annual costs for the 18.0 FTE positions after that will be $2.4 million. All costs will be financed with permit revenue.

BDS was considering asking the increase in next year's budget but submitted ts request early after hearing from the construction industry and other stakeholders.