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City engineer touts need for public input

SHERIDAN — Budget presentations for Sheridan City Hall and the engineering, planning and building departments highlighted an increased focus on public involvement, streamlined processes and going a little more high tech at the city budget work session Friday.

Requested amounts for fiscal year 2014 for each department were similar to last year, reflecting the generally flat budget for the entire city.

Lane Thompson, city engineer, said goals for the engineering department include completing the five-year capital improvement plan, updating the storm water management plan that was last updated in 1987, possibly implementing a truck route to divert traffic around the city rather than through it and continued efforts for public outreach.

“We want to involve the community prior to even starting the design of a project, and that way everyone gets what they want or need out of the project,” Thompson said. “There’s nothing worse than building something that you’re proud of and having the whole neighborhood go, ‘We didn’t need that or want that.’ So it’s very important to keep the pubic involved.”

The proposed budget for the engineering department is $440,446, which is approximately $80,000 less than fiscal year 2013. Thompson said the drop was due to losing a project manager last year who was not replaced.

The planning department requested a budget of $251,530 for fiscal year 2014, up about $8,000 from last year. Thompson said the increase was due to increased worker’s compensation and insurance rates.

Economic development was a key focus for the planning department in FY2013. It secured $3.2 million in grant funds to foster projects devoted to economic development. In FY2014, the department will focus on streamlining the review process through administrative review of planned unit developments, Thompson said.
The building department implemented a new permit software called ViewPermit.

“It’s a much more user-friendly software,” Thompson said. “It allows us to track our times, our permits, everything much easier. The contractors, the homeowner, whoever, can actually set up a login online and check and see where their permit is, who’s reviewing it, what their comments are. Pretty soon you’ll be able to schedule your inspections online, too.”

The building department reviewed 61 commercial building permits and 212 residential permits. Of the residential permits, 16 percent were new construction, which is down considerably from 71 percent new construction in fiscal year 2012. Thompson said that was likely due to the Woodland Park developments in 2012. The department has requested $389,677, up from $365,059 in 2013.

The budget request for Sheridan City Hall increased approximately $10,000 to $89,646. Thompson said the increase will accommodate higher maintenance costs for all the little projects — such as leaky pipes — that need to be addressed in the 100-year-old building.

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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