The Livingston County Information and Technology Committee did not need to give formal consent, but did anyway when the body voted unanimously at its Tuesday afternoon meeting that it was fine with moving funds from the budget of Jon Sear, the county’s network and computer systems administrator, to the county’s zoning office in order to streamline the building permits processes via a software upgrade.
    The topic was brought up by County Board Executive Director Alina Hartley, who noted that staff reductions within the zoning office had created delays in the processes.
    “Recently, (Board Chairman Bob) Young, myself, (Livingston County Assessor) Shelley Renken and some township assessors met to talk about building permits and how the process we go through flows from zoning and sometimes public health down to the county assessor’s office and ultimately to the township assessors so the permits can be added to the tax rolls in a timely manner.
    “Obviously, we’ve made some staffing changes within the zoning office that has slowed that process down a little bit. On the board level, we’ve talked many times about utilizing technology and software to improve the efficiency within the offices, giving us the ability to reduce staff in some of those areas. In this case, it happened in reverse where we reduced staff and now we’re asking for software that will enable the zoning office to function in a more timely manner.”
    Hartley said that some research led the parties involved to discover that Cisco DevNet, the developer the assessor’s office already uses for its real estate database, additionally had a permitting and zoning maintenance program, and could be used as an application to supplement existing software that the county already had.
    The county board executive director stated that the reason the topic was on the IT Committee agenda was to inform the members that Sear had been “frugal enough and gracious enough to allow us to use some excess funds that are within the IT budget in order to pay for this program.”
    “Although this doesn’t require formal approval from this group, we wanted to make sure you were aware of what we’re talking about and that you didn’t have any objections with us moving forward if it’s approved by Finance Committee,” Hartley added.
    When asked what the software would allow the county to do, Hartley went through some of the highlights.
    “It would be built into the county real estate database that we already have, and changes the parcels in real-time and that’s available for all the offices to review at the same time,” she said. “The permits can be generated and tracked, and we have the ability to sort, filter and issue new permits automatically through the system.”
    Chuck Schopp, the county’s zoning and planning administrator, told the members of IT Committee that the proposed program would be very helpful in offsetting staff reductions, and expressed gratitude toward Sear for being willing to offer up excess funds from his budget in order to pay for the software.
    Though the body was not required to, it nevertheless voted and gave unanimous approval to the plan.