Entries for 'one stop shop'

After 12 years’ success, ‘One Stop Shop’ slated for major changes

Posted on May 04, 2017

PDS’ groundbreaking One Stop Shop Codes Administration Program (OSS) turned 12 years old this fiscal year. What started in FY05 as an experiment in consolidating several services and standardizing fees for seven Kenton County jurisdictions now provides numerous services for 17 jurisdictions funded by public and private dollars.

This growth in services provided, jurisdictions served, and the passage of 12 years prompted a wholesale review of the program and the manner in which it is funded. Dubbed “OSS 2.0,” the resulting changes represent the first program overhaul since the program began. OSS allows jurisdictions to provide services to their residents utilizing PDS as their professional staff. These changes become effective July 1, 2017.

These services include building and electric permits and inspections, zoning reviews and permits, enforcement of several property and nuisance codes, and staff support for code enforcement board and boards of adjustment.

Under OSS 2.0, service options for local jurisdictions have been revamped to provide greater flexibility by allowing each jurisdiction to choose the specific service options that meet its needs. Services were bundled into service packages previously that did not always provide a perfect fit. To provide those services under the new program, jurisdictions will be billed a percentage of PDS’ actual costs to provide the service. The percentages vary from zero to 55% depending on the specific type of service.

Beginning July 1, each jurisdiction will pay the same percentage rate for the same specific service. For example, each jurisdiction may receive zoning permits for 0% of PDS’ cost or code enforcement utilizing the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board for 40% of PDS’ costs. Under the previous program, jurisdictions were billed a percentage rate based on the selected service bundle, which meant jurisdictions may pay a different rate for the same service.

“One of the primary goals with these program changes was to get jurisdictions contributing more fairly toward the program,” says Emi Randall, AICP, RLA, Director of Planning and Zoning. “This program does that.”

Another key goal with these changes was to keep program costs and revenue from billing to jurisdictions constant for the program overall. Estimated billing under the new program, as based on this year’s billing, would be within 0.5% of billing under the current program.

“This really is a revenue neutral change,” says Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS’ executive director. “Some jurisdictions that currently pay little or nothing toward the program will begin contributing a small amount. Some jurisdictions that currently contribute heavily will pay less.”

PDS is offering several new services under OSS 2.0 to meet the changing needs of local jurisdictions. For communities that would like to pursue code violations more aggressively, PDS will begin offering that option. PDS will provide a code enforcement officer to drive the community and pursue various violation on an active basis, such as tall grass and weeds, garbage accumulation or improperly parked boats and campers.

Jurisdictions will designate the amount of time to be spent on these activities and the specific types of violations—if any—to be pursued. In addition, PDS will also offer help with rental property inspections associated with rental license programs as well as verification inspections for jurisdiction that have abandoned property tax programs.

To learn more about One Stop Shop, visit the PDS website or contact Emi Randall or Rob Himes, Codes Administrator.

 


Kenton Fiscal Court OKs Vacant Foreclosed Property Registry

Posted on January 03, 2017

Kenton County Fiscal Court voted unanimously last month to enact a county-wide vacant foreclosed property registration program. The program, which became effective December 9, increases the tools available to PDS staff for effective code enforcement activities. Most Kenton County cities advocated for the approval since early 2016.

Implementation of the new program will save tax dollars for PDS’ 16 One Stop Shop program jurisdictions by requiring lenders pursuing foreclosures to register a responsible party to maintain the vacant property. Knowing whom to contact reduces the time spent locating a responsible party when violations arise. The ordinance applies to all Kenton County communities regardless of whether they’re part of the PDS program.

In developing the ordinance with Kenton County Attorney Stacy Tapke, staff sought information from communities that have adopted vacant property registration programs. That research showed this type of program has proven to be a useful tool for other communities.

“The benefit at the office level is allowing faster turnaround times for property clean up,” said Joseph Parson, Planning/Building Inspector for the City of Morehead, Kentucky. That jurisdiction enacted a vacant property registration ordinance in 2011.

The City of Cincinnati uses a similar program. Cincinnati issued a report two years after adopting its vacant foreclosed property registry which details the changes in code enforcement effectiveness before and after adoption. The report states that prior to adoption of the ordinance, an estimated 20-30 percent of foreclosed properties degraded in condition during the foreclosure period. Within the first year after adoption, only ten per cent of those properties degraded in condition. That number dropped to 4.5 percent in the second year.

The cost of administering this program will be the sole responsibility of the banks and lending institutions that must maintain these foreclosed properties. The program will be funded through a required $150 property registration fee. In addition, the registration will reduce costs related to code-enforcement activities by increasing staff efficiency in dealing with vacant and foreclosed properties.

“Requiring a local contact for these properties allows us to contact a person who has the authority to address issues such as tall grass or maintenance violations in a timely manner” said Rob Himes, PDS’ codes administrator. “Under the current system, code enforcement officials’ only option is to mail a violation letter to the lending institution which is often out of state and that rarely yields results.” 

Vacant foreclosed properties can drag down property values in an otherwise well-kept neighborhood. There are an estimated 1,321 properties currently pending foreclosure in Kenton County, some dating back to 2006. Most of these properties set vacant and unmaintained through all or part of the foreclosure process. Kenton County’s new Vacant Foreclosed Property Registry provides cities with a mechanism to require that these properties be maintained to reasonable standards while in foreclosure.

PDS staff is reaching out currently to all lending institutions doing business in the metro area to inform them of this new requirement. It is also working with each of Kenton County’s 20 jurisdictions to discuss the program and provide necessary information to local staff.

Contact Emi Randall, Director of Planning & Zoning Administration or Rob Himes, Codes Administrator, or call 859.331.8980 for more information.


Lakeside Park disbanding code enforcement board, joining joint board

Posted on November 03, 2016
The Lakeside Park City Council is scheduled to vote to disband its code enforcement board on November 14; an affirmative vote will be followed by action to join the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board. Lakeside Park will become the 12th jurisdiction represented by the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board, an alliance of local jurisdictions staffed by PDS’ One Stop Shop program.

Other members of the joint board are Kenton County, Crescent Springs, Crestview Hills, Edgewood, Fort Wright, Independence, Kenton Vale, Park Hills, Ryland Heights, Taylor Mill, and Villa Hills.

Code enforcement continues to be a growing issue in most communities. Cities struggle with serving citations legally and providing an appeal process that will hold up if the case ends up in court. By entering the Joint Code Enforcement Board, the city will benefit in getting these concerns filled.

“If property owners decide to appeal their cases, the city can rest assured that joint code enforcement board members will be trained, will have legal representation present during all meetings, and will pursue their responsibilities every month due to a combined workload,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS’ executive director.

“This is far better than a local board that meets maybe one or two times a year and then questions how it is supposed to handle these matters.”

Membership of the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board is comprised of an appointed representative from each jurisdiction. The Board provides an objective forum to hear appeals from property owners, order timely remediation or abatement of issues, or if necessary impose civil fines for continued, unabated violations of ordinances.

The Joint Board meets the second Thursday of every month at 6:00 p.m. in the Commission Chambers of the PDS Building in Fort Mitchell.

Staff begins ten-year review of One Stop Shop codes admin program

Posted on October 06, 2016

It’s been ten years since the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission (NKAPC; now PDS) established its One Stop Shop Codes Administration Program. Much about the program has changed over that time period. PDS staff is pursuing an in-depth review of the program, its finances, the services it provides, and those being requested by member jurisdictions.

The goal is to assure that the program meets the needs of Kenton County’s 20 jurisdictions in the future as well as it has these first ten years.

“Initiating the One Stop Shop program was relatively easy,” recalls Dennis Gordon, FAICP, executive director at the time and now. “It was born out of one of those a-ha moments when people come together, agree on a goal and a course of action, and move ahead.”

Gordon says the “common sense” that led to the creation of the program also prompted a number of the changes through which it has come. He cites the number of jurisdictions served as a prime example of the change. ‘One Stop Shop’ as it’s commonly called today started out serving eight jurisdictions. The program serves 19 today with a number of services.

In 2005 the program provided zoning administration, zoning enforcement, property maintenance code enforcement, building code administration, and staff support to eight local boards of adjustment. Today the program provides those services plus staff support to a joint board of adjustment board serving seven jurisdictions.

There were no code enforcement boards in 2005, but today the program provides staff support to a joint code enforcement board serving 11 jurisdictions and four single-city boards. Nuisance codes are now part of the services provided along with permits and inspections for HVAC systems, a requirement handed down by the state.

Participating jurisdictions have requested consideration of additional services to be provided by PDS. That list includes a vacant foreclosed property registry and support for administering an urban vacant property tax. According to Gordon, funding will be the primary guide as to whether these services can be accommodated.

One Stop Shop started with a somewhat detailed funding plan in 2005. That plan called on applicants to pay a portion of the cost for the services they needed, participating jurisdictions to pay a percentage of the costs associated with providing the service, and NKAPC/PDS to cover the balance. The addition of services and communities served have made the original funding plan difficult and time consuming to administer. Gordon says staff is looking for a simpler way to account for costs.

“Because of the January 1st deadline imposed on several of the services we provide, we need to wrap up this review soon,” says Gordon. “A number of the changes we anticipate—particularly funding issues—won’t take effect until July 1, 2017 but we still need to get this information to those we serve as quickly as possible so they can make the decisions right for their citizens.”

For explanations of other services being provided currently as mentioned here, please read the first article is this newsletter, Staff works with local jurisdictions to bring about HB422 compliance.

Elsmere Council approves move to greater One Stop Shop services

Posted on July 29, 2016
Elsmere City Council and PDS entered into an expanded level of services agreement effective July 5th that delegates all the city’s building codes administration responsibilities to PDS. Until recently, PDS pursued only non-residential building codes work.

“When our long-time building inspector retired, it made sense to move our building permitting and inspections to PDS,” Mayor Marty Lenhof said.  “I know that PDS will continue to provide great service in the manner that Elsmere residents expect.”

 “We’re pleased to be able to provide more services to the city,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, executive director. “We’ve built a good relationship with Elsmere residents. This expansion of services will help us strengthen it.”

As it is with other One Stop Shop program communities, filing code enforcement complaints, seeking information about building or electric inspections, and searching for a property’s zoning classification is one phone call away. PDS can be reached at 859.331.8980 between 8 and 5 Monday through Friday. Considerable information in this regard is also available on the PDS website and the One Stop Shop website.

“The One Stop Shop program has helped a number of cities increase service levels for their citizens and reduce costs since 2005. We’re looking forward to providing more of those benefits to Elsmere and its citizens,” concluded Gordon.

One Stop Shop revenues grow with economy; fees won’t increase

Posted on June 07, 2016

When NKAPC/PDS established its One Stop Shop program in 2005, it expected to increase fees each July to keep pace with inflation. The amount of increase was to be dictated by the cost of living for the previous year. That is how the program’s financing has worked for most years since then.

“One Stop Shop was built on the premise of total cost recovery,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS’ executive director. “By building the cost of living escalator into all our local government agreements, we let everyone know that there would be incremental annual increases in our fees.”

Gordon says the small annual increases were requested by area builders and developers because they can be absorbed better than huge increases every five or ten years.

Last year’s cost of living increase in the Cincinnati metro area was negligible. The expanding economy is bringing in additional workload and dollars so according to the agreements, fees in all participating One Stop Shop jurisdictions will stay the same as this year.

“Staff did a lot of homework back then to create fee schedules that would cover costs,” said Gordon, “but there were certainly no guarantees that revenue would match expenditures. The economy was obviously a huge unknown in this—and who would’ve ever predicted the Great Recession?”

Gordon says small increases have been implemented during a majority of the past ten years. He says that the agency’s goal of full cost recovery has been re-evaluated by officials and lowered to an 80 percent cost recovery rate.


Edgewood disbands its code enforcement board to join joint board

Posted on March 04, 2016

The Edgewood City Council voted unanimously during its December 7 meeting to disband its code enforcement board and join the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board. Edgewood becomes the 11th jurisdiction represented by the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board, an alliance of local jurisdictions staffed by PDS’ One Stop Shop program.

Other members of the joint board are Kenton County, Crescent Springs, Crestview Hills, Fort Wright, Independence, Kenton Vale, Park Hills, Ryland Heights, Taylor Mill, and Villa Hills.

Edgewood City Administrator Brian Dehner stated, “Code enforcement continues to be a growing issue in most communities. Cities struggle with serving citations legally and providing an appeal process that will hold up if the case ends up in court. By entering the Joint Code Enforcement Board, the City of Edgewood will benefit in getting these concerns filled.”

“If property owners decide to appeal their case we know the Joint Code Enforcement Board members will be trained, have legal representation present during all meetings to provide them with legal advice and an experienced board that hears cases every month. Another benefit is our city administrative staff will no longer have to administer the city’s Code Enforcement Board, allowing the staff to work on other job duties,” said Dehner.

Membership of the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board is comprised of an appointed representative from each jurisdiction. The Board provides an objective forum to hear appeals from property owners, order timely remediation or abatement of issues, or if necessary impose civil fines for continued, unabated violations of ordinances.

The Joint Board meets the second Thursday of every month at 6:00 PM in the Commission Chambers of the PDS Building in Fort Mitchell.

Staff working with local jurisdictions to expand code enforcement tools

Posted on December 29, 2015

As code enforcement issues morph and grow, PDS staff and the elected officials they serve work to keep pace. As those issues present new challenges, the collaboration on which PDS was founded pursues new tools for its communities to use.

“Ten years ago when we initiated the One Stop Shop program, code enforcement was pretty straight forward,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS’ executive director. “Staff responded to complaints, visited the sites and sent letters, and followed up with those violators who resisted complying with local ordinances. It seems like everything’s gotten more complicated and time consuming since then.”

Gordon cites the many foreclosures witnessed during the Great Recession as the first issue to challenge PDS’ protocol for abating code violations.

“Keeping up with code enforcement issues prompted by foreclosures was extremely frustrating for staff. The homeowners were gone. The lending institutions weren’t stepping up to offer any assistance. So, the staff got trapped into wasting untold hours looking for people who were taking steps not to be found.”

The solution to this issue came in a program used by hundreds of jurisdictions across the country. As requested by most county jurisdictions, Kenton County Fiscal Court is now considering a county-wide Vacant Properties Registration Ordinance to remedy the problem of finding no one of record who is responsible for vacant foreclosed properties. Action on the proposal is hoped for after the first of the new year.

Staff’s second challenge came in the form of nuisance codes adopted by most of the jurisdictions served by PDS’ code enforcement program.

“Our first real experience with chronic nuisance codes came with ongoing problems being experienced at the old USA Hotel in Fort Mitchell. It seemed as though law enforcement, health department, and code enforcement officials took turns citing the owner for violations. Once the city adopted a chronic nuisance code, all agencies collaborated to get the place closed. A Mercedes dealership occupies that site now—a clear instance of success benefitting the city.”

The solution to this issue came out of discussions between Gordon and the chief executives of those jurisdictions.

“When confronted with the fact that the minor differences and form of their Chronic Nuisance Codes were going to prompt higher costs, the elected officials were pretty quick to suggest ironing out those differences and standardizing language,” according to Gordon. “We collected all the local nuisance codes and are working with legal counsel now to pull all the disparate contents into one model ordinance that can be adopted by each of the legislative bodies.”

The resulting model ordinance is near completion. Gordon suggests that a meeting of all jurisdictions to discuss the model will be held after the first of the new year.

“If the collaborative spirit that’s marked this process to date continues, we expect to have all jurisdictions under the new model nuisance code by the second quarter of 2016,” he concluded.

The One Stop Shop codes administration program was initiated in 2005 and 2006 at the request of eight Kenton County jurisdictions. In its earliest form, the program provided building and electric inspection services, zoning and property maintenance codes administration, and support for the jurisdiction’s board of adjustment.

It has since grown to include providing staff support for the Kenton County Joint Board of Adjustment and Joint Code Enforcement Board, collaborations between the Fiscal Court and a number of local municipalities. As for jurisdictions, the original membership of eight has more than doubled to include 17 of the county’s 20 jurisdictions.

A listing of those jurisdictions and the services provided to them can be found online.


Independence becomes 17th participant in One Stop Shop program

Posted on November 06, 2014

Independence City Council and Planning and Development Services of Kenton County entered into an interlocal agreement recently that delegates the city’s zoning ordinance and property maintenance code administration to PDS; the agreement becomes effective on Monday, November 3rd. Independence is the 17th Kenton County jurisdiction (out of 20) to be part of PDS’ collaborative One Stop Shop program.

The program is built on PDS’ “critical mass” of professionals, providing economies of scale that are impossible for local jurisdictions to match and levels of service the local jurisdictions can’t afford.

The city is also opting to disband its own board of adjustment and code enforcement board in favor of participation in the Kenton County joint board of adjustment and Kenton County joint code enforcement board. These moves are expected to save the city even more public funds.

“We’re pleased to welcome Independence to the program,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, executive director. “Mayor Donna Yeager and City Administrator Chris Moriconi have talked with us over the past several weeks about the city’s priorities; we understand them clearly and intend to hit the ground running.”

Filing code enforcement complaints, seeking information about subsequent inspections, and searching for a property’s zoning classification is now one phone call away for Independence residents. PDS can be reached at 331.8980 between 8 and 5 Monday through Friday. A PDS code enforcement official will also be available part-time on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in the city building for anyone from Independence and southern Kenton County who needs assistance.

Information in this regard is also available on the PDS website and the new One Stop Shop website.

“The One Stop Shop program has helped a number of cities increase service levels for their citizens and reduce costs since 2004. We’re looking forward to providing those benefits to Independence and its citizens,” concluded Gordon.


Planning director earns Certified Floodplain Manager status

Posted on May 23, 2014
Martin Scribner, AICP, NKAPC’s director of planning and zoning, recently passed the certification exam for national Certified Floodplain Manager designation. Scribner currently serves as floodplain manager for 13 of Kenton County’s 20 jurisdictions and this certification will aid him in those duties.

The Association of State Floodplain Managers established this national certification program. The program recognizes continuing education and professional development that enhance the knowledge and performance of local, state, federal, and private-sector floodplain managers.

The role of the nation's floodplain managers is expanding due to increases in disaster losses, the emphasis being placed upon mitigation to alleviate the cycle of damage-rebuild-damage, and a recognized need for professionals to adequately address these issues. This certification program lays the foundation for ensuring that highly-qualified individuals are available to meet the challenge of breaking the damage cycle and stopping its negative drain on the nation's human, financial, and natural resources.

The professional certification is recognized as a way to:
•    improve floodplain managers’ knowledge of floodplain management concepts;
•    promote an understanding of relevant subject matter that is consistent nationwide;
•    convey new concepts and practices; and
•    build partnerships among organizations and agencies that share the goal of advancing sound floodplain management.
“I’m proud that Martin took on this challenge and passed the exam,” stated Dennis Gordon, FAICP, NKAPC’s executive director. “Having a certified floodplain manager on staff could well have a positive financial impact for those of our constituents who own property in one of the county’s many floodplains.”

A benefit for a community that employs a Certified Floodplain Manager and is a member of the National Flood Insurance Program may be eligible for certain flood insurance discounts that are passed on to the property owners.

“This provides one more example of the value of our collaborative One Stop Shop Codes Administration Program, and ultimately of NKAPC. It would be nearly impossible—financially speaking—for each one of our 20 local governments to pursue the responsibilities we provide in their names,” Gordon concluded.

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