DCD changes its shape

The Kitsap County Department of Community Development (DCD) is changing its shape and will be responsible for generating the money for its operation while establishing a citizen’s committee to help to determine its future direction.

The idea is to turn the department into an “enterprise fund,” able to fund itself from the fees generated by the permits it grants.

“The fee is for services,” said DCD Director Larry Keeton. “We will be raising prices, but have found that businesses are willing to pay the fee if we provide the service.”

Keeton presented a detailed memo about the requirements of an enterprise fund-driven department, which he said he hoped to post on the department’s Web site ( by Monday afternoon.

“I think this is a good idea,” said North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer. “It allows the department to build up reserves so in a downturn you can keep your staff. If there are cuts, a planner isn’t going to compete with a deputy sheriff position.”

Keeton presented the requirements for consideration to the county commissioners, and he hopes to solicit public input. To this end, the board has scheduled a hearing on Jan. 28, prior to ratification of the new policy.

One of the first steps will be to establish consistent fee levels. Keeton said there was no good explanation for current fee amounts. After investigating, he found they were arbitrarily set by former DCD Director Daryl Piercy.

The new model should base the fee structure on an hourly rate, including travel time. As for overtime, an applicant can pay the extra hourly costs if they want faster service.

Similarly, an applicant dissatisfied with a permit ruling can employ an outside agency to review the project. While the applicant must pay for this service, the DCD will abide by its decision.

Keeton said the department should also be able to reduce and even waive certain fees, in cases when storm damage requires emergency construction. Bauer expressed concern about this, saying, “If they have insurance to cover the damage, you are subsidizing their insurance company.”

In a separate action, the DCD is looking to establish a Permit Review Task Force, comprised of county residents who are involved in the permit process one way or another.

“The task force will help us to streamline our operations and tell us what makes sense in our permitting process,” Keeton said. “They can tell us what is going on in the industry and keep us plugged in to new ideas.”

Unlike other volunteer boards, the task force would receive no per diem. Some plans have it including as many as 25 people, although Keeton favors keeping it smaller in order to give everyone a chance to provide input. This was seconded by Bauer.

“If you have more than 15 people it won’t allow everyone air time,” he said.

The council could meet as often as twice a month. Over the next few weeks DCD will present a list of recommended names to the commissioners, who will approve them in a single motion.

Keeton said the council will not be geographically balanced, like other volunteer boards.

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