Part 5 – CRD Building Inspection – 10 Times More Efficient than Islands Trust?

Efficiency

The CRD underwent  a “cost recovery” review earlier this year (CRD Cost Recovery May 8, 2019) to determine the estimated costs associated with the primary building inspection function in the Electoral Areas (Juan de Fuca, Salt Spring, Southern Gulf Islands).

That investigation indicated, on average, while the CRD had a goal of 80% cost recovery, “that over the last 10 years the actual average fee cost recovery has been approximately 70%.”

Compare that cost recovery to that reported by the Islands Trust development application processing (coincidentally in March of this year) of 7.1%.

In other words, the CRD operations in recovering the cost of processing applications was either:

(a) 10 times more effective, or

(b) 10 times more efficient, and/or

(c) had an application fee structure which was followed, and resulted in greater cost recovery, or

(d) a combination of all of the above.

I am going with (d), and the following is my rationale.

CRD building permit fees are structured in a basic fee + estimated cost of building based on $/sf. The larger the building, the greater number of plumbing fixures, bathrooms, etc. the greater the application fee.

“In determining the appropriate cost recovery for Building Inspection services, an analysis of the building permit fee structure used by other municipalities within the CRD was completed….[using] fees for a Single Family Dwelling (1200 square foot, 2 storey, full basement home, 2 bathrooms, 10 plumbing fixtures and 1 hot water tank)….Building Inspection cost recovery for 2018 was 75.39%.”

Islands Trust’s application fees on the other hand are standardized, and are supposed to be based on an average cost per application (e.g. development permit application).

Why the magnitudinal difference then between the two government bodies?

IMO, and based on both personal and reported experiences, there are three prime reasons – (a) inefficiency, (b) overabundance of requirements, (c) failure of senior management to ensure (a) and (b) are kept to a minimum, and (d) failure of senior management to track and ensure that planners properly estimate the cost of any particular application, using published the “work order” forms, specifically designed to assist in estimating the complexity of applications.

These “work order” forms are the equivalent of the building inspection estimate forms used by CRD Staff to determine the cost of any particular building permit:
Here is an example of such a form:
Appendix 5 Jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since these forms are the mechanism which is intended to ensure that taxpayers aren’t picking up the bill for development applications, it is clear, by the dismal 7.1% cost recovery, these forms have not been used by staff.

And yet, there is specific Islands Trust Policy with respect to Cost Recovery.

5.6.i applicationprocessing June 2004

This all begs the rather fundamental questions “Why not?” and “Why would senior management not be concerned by a failure to collect over $2,000,000/year in the processing of applications?”

Let’s look at some of the most reasonable potential answers to those questions:

  1. Senior management have been willfully negligent in ignoring the Islands Trust Cost Recovery Policy.
  2. Senior management have been ignorant of the Islands Trust Cost Recovery Policy.
  3. Planning staff have been willfully ignoring the Islands Trust Cost Recovery Policy.
  4. Planning staff have been ignorant of the Islands Trust Cost Recovery Policy.

Let’s be clear – this is not about a couple of hundred thousand dollars in a nearly $8 million Islands Trust budget.

This involves over $2 million/year of taxpayer monies, representing over 25% of the ENTIRE Islands Trust budget.

And, it is not as if this is a newly reported problem. As I have detailed in Parts 1 through 4, this has been going on since before I brought it to the attention of Trust Council in 2004.

It has been going on since after the 2007 Stantec Report on the issue.

It has been going on since the 2007 Islands Trust “Focused Review” on the issue.

It has been going on since the Trust’s 2012 “Model Fees Bylaw” report.

The larger question…the most important question…the most relevant question, however is this – When will the Province step in and conduct the independent core review/audit of Trust operations as it promised us back in 2001?

 

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