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Island County to roll out online permit tracking portal

In a few months, Island County residents will be able to track application permits online.

In about six months, residents will be able to complete their applications online as well.

Island County staff members began training this month on SmartGov, a new browser-based software program that the public should have round-the-clock access to in about three months, according to Planning Director David Wechner.

Permit applications currently must be made in person and by appointment at county offices in Coupeville and on Camano Island.

“For Camano and anyone who lives in a far flung part of the county, this is a good thing,” Wechner said. “This is the ability to access us remotely and find out what’s going on with a permit without having to come to Coupeville.”

SmartGov is an upgraded version of the software called Interlocking, which is currently used by the county.

Wechner said the county purchased Interlocking at the end of its support life in 2011 with the upgrade to SmartGov in mind.

The software and training will cost the county approximately $24,000.

In addition to permit application and tracking, residents will be able to request inspections and download documents.

The software contains a GIS mapping component as well.

“You’ll be able to open a map, click on a permit and see what’s going on,” Wechner said.

Elements of public works and public health department services will also be trackable online by staff and the public.

The intention is to improve efficiency by allowing staff to more easily create permit documents, make notes on each application and populate “to-do lists” for inspections and application tasks, Wechner said.

“What it’s going to allow is better tracking of permits as they come into the system,” Wechner said. “The reporting functions are better than what we have now.”

Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson was a proponent of getting the new software to better address the county’s permit workload.

“The county needs to get better in this area,” Price Johnson said. “It is my goal for the county to improve the current process for permit review to make it both more effective and efficient in use of county staff time, and make the process more predictable, transparent and customer service-oriented for our community.”

During recent discussions about reopening county offices on Fridays, Price Johnson mentioned that the SmartGov software will address some of the workload bottleneck and serve as a key component in easing that backlog.

“Opening on Fridays without these improvements could have the opposite effect and negatively impact the current permit review process,” Price Johnson said.

“SmartGov is an important investment because it creates an improved platform for the county’s permit processing. By having a web-based system, staff from multiple permitting departments can access and work on applications simultaneously.”

Both Interlocking and SmartGov are products of Poulsbo-based Paladin Data Systems, which was established in 1994.

Paladin staff will be working with Island County staff through next week to ensure they are comfortable with the software.

Paladin staff will be assisting Island County in the transfer of data between the two softwares.

Paladin will also create a few custom calculators for Island County to simplify routine functions, according to the contract.

These include modules to calculate the mitigation fee for Holmes Harbor Basin, the health department franchise fee, the SEPA fee, proration, late fees and liquid waste.

 

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