Policies and Procedures

As I put the finishing touches on this, it’s a snow day… blizzard conditions, wind chill advisories, the works are on the news. It makes me wonder if Punxsutawney Phil got it wrong? Could there really be an early spring coming? Is that why we are having such severe and intense weather now?

Whether it’s early, late or right on time, spring will most certainly come. With the warmer temperatures come spring cleaning, remodeling and of course, new construction projects. What does that mean for our cities? The building department will likely see an influx of requests for permits, and the rest of the departments will be turning the page from winter response to spring.

As public entities prepare for the influx of requests for building permits and conditional use permits, it’s important to ensure that all employees are trained on your policies and procedures for the review and issuance of permits. Additionally, ensuring that all employees are aware of any updates on statutes and ordinances which may impact the ability for an entity to receive the permit as requested. Some permits may require hearings, which require notice to be provided. Ensuring that all who would be involved in the review and issuance of permits are up to date on requirements for the same will save time and money alter.

Consider this scenario. Jane and Joe are wanting to build a new house. They have found the perfect lot. Chad the builder swings into the City office over his lunch break to grab the permit, real quick. Frankie, from building services is out on lunch and no one else is available to review and issue the permit. Chad becomes frustrated because this is the only time he’s going to be in town for the next couple weeks, and Jane and Joe really want to get started on the build. Sally, who really just wants to help but isn’t familiar with the ins and outs of the building code, issues the permit and collects the fees from Chad. Chad takes his issued permit and builds the house as designed. A few months later, the neighbors are calling and Frankie realizes that Sally has issued this permit, but because the plans included a pool that was larger than what was allowed under ordinance, the permit should have been a conditional use permit, subject to a hearing. What do you do now?

Setting aside time for training and policy review can be a crucial tool in your loss control and risk management plan. Keeping employees aware of changes in not only building and zoning ordinances or laws, but any other area in which policy or law development takes place.

For all departments, whether making those changes from the winter time responses to the spring time ones or not, it’s a good review your policies routinely to confirm that ‘the way we have always done things’ is in line with the policy or law for which it was meant to satisfy. If the way you have always done it isn’t in line with what you should be doing, change it! And, just because this is the way it’s always been done, doesn’t mean that it’s the only way that it can be done. There are multiple online training opportunities available through the SDPAA’s Online Training Library. In 2019 the SDPAA has added the online streaming option which partners with those opportunities already available through the SDPAA’s partnership with First Net Learning and LERMG.

If you’re a Member of the SDPAA and while you’re reviewing those policies or procedures and you find that you have a question, but it really doesn’t fit into our Employment Practices Hotline benefit, fear not, the SDPAA is delighted to announce the Government Practices Hotline. This hotline is intended to assist with some of the ‘other’ burning questions that you may have. Watch your mailbox (the snail mail box, not your email inbox!) for our new brochure!

One of the many goals of the SDPAA is to continue to offer the most up to date loss control and risk management resources to our Members. Not a Member of the SDPAA but want to know more about our programs and benefits? Head over to the resources tab here on our website or call Lynn Bren, Director of Member Services at 800-658-3633 Option 2.