Business

City putting building permits and business information on Internet

By ERICA HALL

The Mirror

For several years, the city of Federal Way has provided telephone access to Amanda, a software database that keeps track of all the permits and business licenses in the city. With the phone system, people can call at any time, enter their permit numbers, and schedule inspections or check the status of their permits.

The city’s information systems manager, Mehdi Sadri, said the next step — which could be occurring in the next six months — will be for the city to allow the same sort of capabilities through the Internet.

Sadri said city officials have talked about on-line permitting for some time, but the technology wasn’t available and officials weren’t sure about the cost.

“We had it on our plate for several years, but the cost was high,” he said.

Now that the technology exists and there are better cost figures connected to the services and hardware, the city has have proposed on-line permitting, with a three-phased project costing $95,000 in capital expenses –– which have been worked into the city’s budget –– and $15,000 in annual licensing and support costs.

The first and second phases could be done fairly soon, Sadri said. The first phase would provide the basic infrastructure to allow a person to check on a permit online, and it would allow a person to schedule or cancel inspections and view inspection results.

The second phase would introduce the ability for the city to accept and process credit card payments online, allowing people to apply, pay and receive basic, over-the-counter electrical, plumbing and mechanical permits and business licenses all from the convenience of home, 24 hours a day.

Sadri said he’s hoping to get started on the project in December, finish the first phase in the first quarter of next year and finish the second phase in the second quarter.

Phase 3, which would allow more difficult or complicated permit applications to be processed online, might take some time. Sadri said a project that would have to wait until the third phase is implemented would be something quite complex, and would include things like maps, site plans, drawings, legal documents or letters.

In order for it to work, according to Sadri, all the contractors in the region that would be working and submitting plans would have to use the same program so it would all read correctly on-line.

“Phase 3 is very ambitious and aggressive,” he said. “There’s really not a good technology out there yet that everyone uses, especially because there are so many contractors out there.”

Still, phases 1 and 2 will “help a lot of homeowners and small business owners who don’t have time to do it during the day,” Sadri said, adding it would help people “who used to have to take a half-day off to take care of this stuff.”

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

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