Patch asked Bosworth: Who specifically is to blame for the situation at the Town building department? Is it the town supervisor's responsibility to solve the problem? If so, how much blame should be put on Jon Kaiman for the situation? Why do you think problems there have not been resolved to date? What are your general specifics of your plan to fix it?
Bosworth's reply: Many residents of the unincorporated areas of the Town have experienced difficulty and stress in dealing with the Building Department -- and that simply needs to change. A number of positive steps have been accomplished in recent years (accountability, ethics, systems, software,computers, personnel, etc.), but much of that is unseen to the public and has not addressed the essential goal of ensuring that the department is truly “consumer friendly”.
All of this is not so much a question of “blame”, but rather a question of “where do we go from here?”.
There is much work to be done, in order to improve the Building Department to the point where it is functioning as an advocate for residents and taxpayers, as opposed to being an adversary. It is essential that we move the Department to a higher level of service and efficiency, for the benefit of our residents and business people.
My commitment to these needed improvements was outlined some time ago and I am pleased to share the details with you here:
1) User-Friendly Building Department
* A comprehensive “citizen-friendly” approach in respect to all functions, policies and personnel of the Building Department. Respect, responsiveness and communication need to be the hallmarks of the Building Department.
2) Customer Service Training
* Professional customer service training of Department staff, with the stated goal of improving customer satisfaction. Performance management surveys to make sure the job is getting done. “Top down” emphasis on service and response.
3) Best Practices & Technological Advances
* Expand the best practices already implemented to help applicants get their plans reviewed, permits issued and inspections scheduled in a more timely manner. New and effective ways to navigate the permit process – establish on-line tools so that residents can avoid needless trips to Town Hall. Regular updates to residents on code changes that affect them.
4) Applicant Advocate
* A new service to assist the public with issues related to the permitting process - dedicatedstaff available to ensure residents always have someone they can go to directly to obtain a response and status on their matters, without having to navigate the bureaucracy.
5) Extended Reconciliation Period
* A one-year extension of the Reconciliation Program, which waives all penalties associated with work previously done without permits (i.e., so-called “maintain fees”).
6) Off-Site Office Hours and Evening Hours
* Community-based office hours at locations throughout North Hempstead, to make it more convenient for residents to ask questions and resolve Building Department-related issues. Explore establishing evening office hours for homeowners, to improve convenience.
7) Fast-track Permit Process
* Focus on streamlining the process for simple applications such as fences and decks.