Prescott
AZ

Council Memo
2815

Presentation Regarding Possible Out-Sourcing of Building Services

Information

Department:Community DevelopmentSponsors:
Category:Introduction and Discussion

Attachments

  1. Printout
  2. Willdan Response to RFP

Document Comments

Recommended Action: This item is for presentation only. No formal action will be taken.

Body

Item Summary

 

Discussion of potential agreement for out-sourcing of certain building services related to the production home builders in the north Prescott master plan communities. The purpose of the proposed out-sourcing is to contract permit intake, plan review, and building inspection services in order to more effectively address increased volume and permit issuance time frames, and to provide essential services to the City’s production builder clientele with increased efficiency.

 

 

Background

 

The potential for out-sourcing certain building services provided to the production builders in the master plan communities in the north Prescott area became a consideration as the Community Development Department weighed building project and permit volumes vs. available staff and departmental resources through the FY20 budget process in early 2019. In an effort to address elongated permit issuance timeframes due to overall volume experienced by the department, all options to improve permit issuance timeframes were examined. Addressing the more efficient issuance of building permits to local production builders also serves to more effectively meet the Council’s FY20 strategic plan goals and objectives of providing superior essential services to our growing community, including efficient and solution-driven service by City departments. 

 

Ongoing analysis of new build volumes evolved into exploration of the potential for out-sourcing that segment of builder business. The consistent and repetitive nature of the work product makes it the most viable base of department business for out-sourced vendor support.

 

In late summer 2019, an RFP for building services was advertised and produced four (4) responses, all of which met the RFP criteria and credentialing necessary to provide the specified services. None of the responding firms are located in Prescott, but all affirmed the ability to dispatch personnel to the area from their Phoenix offices to perform the on-site inspection work identified in the RFP, and also affirmed the ability to perform electronic plan review and permitting services. At least two firms identified a desire to establish a satellite office in the Prescott area to more fully accommodate the City’s needs.

 

A team of Community Development and Public works staff comprised of professionals in each of the departmental disciplines represented in the RFP was compiled and performed a panel review and ranking of the four responding firms, leading to the selection of the top two ranked firms to be interviewed. Those firms were interviewed by the review panel, and Willdan was unanimously selected as the firm with the most appropriate team and expertise to provide the services outlined in the RFP.

 

Willdan Engineering (“Willdan”) is a subsidiary of Willdan Group, Inc., a California corporation founded in 1964 with a network of offices in more than twenty states across the U.S. Willdan has had a presence in the Phoenix area for several decades, and has been utilized for out-sourced building and engineering services in Arizona by the cities of Tempe, Phoenix, Tucson, Peoria, Avondale, Page, El Mirage, Parker, Tusayan, Glendale, as well as Yuma, Mohave, La Paz counties in Arizona, and Clark County, Nevada. They also have established relationships with a number of Arizona Native American tribal communities, and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

 

Willdan principals will be in attendance to provide a short presentation to Council reflecting their qualifications and capabilities to mobilize in Prescott for these contemplated services.

 

Meeting History

Jan 14, 2020 2:00 PM  City Council Study Session Meeting
draft Draft

Director of Community Development Bryn Stotler provided a presentation to Council regarding ongoing work in the Community Development department related to business services in the community. Last summer they began review of services and issued an RFP for Building Services that would cover permit intake and issuance/close out, building plan review, fire plan review and building inspection in order to stay within the Council’s strategic plan and provide a solution to the volume staff is receiving to continue to provide superior customer service in a time of growth. This is a viable alternative to adding additional staff.

Four responses were received to the RFP and two firms were interviewed. There is not currently a firm located in Prescott that can deliver on the needs all are in Phoenix, but Willdan has contractors locally and is invested in the community.

City Manager Michael Lamar asked Ms. Stotler to expand on what area the consultants will be responsible for.

Ms. Stotler stated that the consultants will be responsible for the up to 100 permits under review for the Master Plan Production Builder Developments such as Walden Farms, Antelope Crossings, Deep Well Ranch, and similar communities in the area. Accounting for approximately 45% of requests received. She introduced Steven Bacs and Autumn Wollman from Willdan.

Councilmember Rusing asked what the costs will be and what improvements to current timelines will be realized if a consultant is approved. She also asked what is status of new software for the Community Development department.

Ms. Stotler advised that the proposals will be brought forward with a request for approval on the January 28th Agenda and costs will be included in that. She also advised that staff will be live at the end of this month with the new software, and advised that the sutomer experience will not change immediately but when it does they will be trained on it. Additionally, the consultants would be trained on the system.

Councilman Blair said he is pleased to see things going in this direction. Custom home builds require multiple reviews and that is what drags the timelines out so far, but working with a consultant who is aware of those requirements should help with that issue.

Ms. Stotler stated that we also have an express permit system and it is very systematic, because so many of these homes are repetitive and can be reviewed in multiples that will help with the process timelines as well.

Mr. Bacs and Ms. Wollman with Willdan continued the presentation regarding the services of their company.

Services Offered:

* Civil Engineering, Building Safety, Fire Plan Review

* Civil Engineering, Infrastructure, Building & Fire Inspections

* Permit Technician and Administration Services

* Construction Management

* Landscape Architecture Plan Review and Inspections

* Land Planning and Zoning Review

* Water and Wastewater Review and Inspections

* Additional Suite of Civil Engineering Design Services

Councilman Blair asked how effective the company is in turning around plan reviews and during the construction phase whether there would be inspectors on site.

Ms. Wollman stated that turnaround standard is 10 working days, and can be expedited in five working days. First review is comprehensive with comprehensive comments, second review applicant is contacted if issues have not been resolved to save the jurisdictions time and money. Inspectors will be on site daily.

Commitment to Prescott:

* Historic strong presence in Northern Arizona communities

* Sponsor of Arizona Long Riders parade

* Volunteer Northern Arizona VA Hospital

* Native Arizonan staff with rural and small town experience

* Committed to an office in Prescott, part of 2020 Company Plan

* Same staff assigned to create continuity for each project

* Will hire local Prescott staff to serve the community where feasible

* Commitment to working with Prescott staff to meet city’s goals

Councilmember Rusing thanked Willdan for their presentation and positively commented on the many services they offer, but stated that she has concerns regarding response to RFP being limited to new single family residences in mass graded and produced areas. She commented that the developers should be the ones to pay for this and that this community has many custom builders who need to have their processes improved as well and asked how this transition would impact them.

Mr. Lamar stated that developers will pay out of the permit fees and plans examination fees will come from the developer as well.

Ms. Stotler commented that the homes which will go through these processes have been plated for many years and that is the volume that is being addressed. Staff’s priority is to meet the customers needs and the builders/developers are our customers too, they are paying upwards of several million dollars to the city which is contributing to the economy as much as the custom builders. This work will free up staff time for the local custom builders as well, it is important to find ways to effectively meet the needs of all builders/developers and meet the needs of all their business models.

Councilman Goode expressed his concerns regarding potential financial liability associated with this and how we can ensure that Willdan will be doing proper inspections to ensure all codes are met.

Ms. Stotler commented that we rely on same level of established credentials for vendors as we do for our own staff, and that contract management and oversight will be required as is the case when we work with outsourced Engineers for various Public Works projects and the standard model for inspections will be maintained. She also reiterated Mr. Lamar's comments about payments stating that plan review is billed at 100%, 75% of that goes to the consultant and 25% comes back to the city.

Councilman Goode expressed his concerns regarding the new software implementation and stated that it is important to ensure any of the issues there may be with the system are worked out before we engage the services of a consultant.

Ms. Stotler stated that they have discussed the software transition with Willdan and that one fascet of the program the company has already utilized and is familiar with so they will have a distinct advantage as we move forward.

Mr. Lamar commented that we have reached a point of critical mass with the workload at this point and we need to look at either outsourcing or hiring more people.

Mayor Mengarelli echoed Mr. Lamar's comments and stated that this model would give the opportunity to ebb and flow more easily.

Mayor Pro Tem Orr thanked Willdan for attending the meeting and reiterated the importance of unclogging the pipeline with first class service for our customers. She stated that we value all contractors and developers in the same manner and this will give us the opportunity to serve them all equally.

Mr. Lamar commented that by first of July we will have a good idea of whether this model will work and can be re-evaluated before the next fiscal year. He has faith that it will work and does not anticipate any reduction in service.

Councilman Sischka stated that Willdan has incentive to do well and is glad to see this as it will be an excellent way to deal will mass produced communities.