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  • 1. Business Area Analysis for City of Monessen, Pennsylvania Department of Public Safety Date: June 1, 1999 Introduction The purpose of this document is to capture the results of the analysis of a business area. This information is a critical prerequisite to the establishment of a strategy for a business area that defines requirements and articulates the means for implementing a business solution that meets those requirements. The Business Area Analysis Document consists of the following sections: • Business Overview • Project Definition • Objectives • Context • Process • Data/Subject Areas • Issues & Considerations • Terminology Date(s) of BAA: Location:
  • 2. Business Overview The Department of Public Safety conducts zoning and land use planning within the city of Monessen, Pennsylvania. The department’s primary responsibilities include the following: a) regulating the use of land and the location, use, and density of buildings within the city; b) providing for the administration, implementation and enforcement of the city’s zoning ordinances; c) permitting, prohibiting, regulating and determining the uses of land, watercourses and other bodies of water--the size, height, bulk, location, erection, construction, repair, maintenance, alteration, razing, removal and use of structures; the areas and dimensions of land and bodies of water to be occupied by uses and structures; the areas, courts, yards and other open spaces and distances to be left unoccupied by uses and structures; d) establishing the maximum density and intensity of development; and e) establishing provisions for special exceptions and variances to be administered by a Zoning Hearing Board. Department of Public Safety The Department of Public Safety consists of two full-time code enforcement officers employed by the municipality. The department primarily exists to provide a range of services to the city, its citizens, business owners, guests, and administration. These services include a number of related regulatory functions as well as planning and advising. Regulatory/Permitting From a regulatory standpoint, the office represents the city of Monessen, its ordinances, citizens, and council when interacting with the public and/or potential occupants. The most crucial role it plays is enforcing the city’s zoning and land use codes and ordinances. This is accomplished in a variety of ways, including: • Occupancy inspections and issuance of occupancy permits • Tracking properties in violation of codes/ordinances and contacting the appropriate parties • Responding to citizen complaints via telephone or in person • Keeping Director of Public Safety, City Manager, Mayor, and rest of council informed by weekly department summary reports • Preparing and issuing various permits such as demolition, health, building, and occupancy. • Issuing citations to property owners in violation of city codes/ordinances In order to respond to these efforts in a timely and professional manner, it is important that the necessary information is readily available and accurate. Information pertaining to various codes, property owners, businesses, and land uses of the city need to be accurate, easily accessible, and updateable. Collecting and maintaining this information is resource- intensive. It is also essential, so any improvement in the efficacy and efficiency of this process directly benefits the core mission of the office. There is considerable untapped potential for information technology to increase the efficiency and accuracy of record keeping for the department while keeping costs under control for both the department and city as a whole.
  • 3. Planning Another area of service provided by the department is in planning. The department provides tax and zoning maps to citizens wishing to relocate to the city and in search of usable land. The department also informs individuals of the various codes and regulations that may be applicable to their project. They also schedule and arrange for any planning commission or zoning board meetings that may be required. Such duties include: • Sending notification to adjacent property owners • Sending notification to newspaper(s) • Informing various board members of scheduled meetings and preparing them with a summary of the issues. • Conducting any necessary research on any existing or potential code violations that may result from a proposed project Challenges & Opportunities • Collecting and maintaining accurate information about property owners and residents is challenging in a city where properties are frequently sold to land trusts or corporations. • With only two full-time code enforcement officers to handle the numerous issues of the department, many of which require them to address in person, it is arduous for them to manage the filing and clerical requirements of the department. • The department currently has a computer available to them that is underutilized. • There is considerable opportunity for utilizing the computer for preparing reports, tracking properties, addressing complaints, and issuing permits. • There is also considerable opportunity for using the internet as a resource for collecting and sharing information with constituents, other public safety departments, the Westmoreland County Recorder of Deeds office, and the elected officials who only serve part-time. The internet can also be utilized to conduct research on zoning and/or planning issues relating to the betterment of the city. Project Definition 1. Project Name: Municipal Property Management System 2. Project Mission: Develop and implement efficient, standardized processes that enable the Department of Public Safety to maintain the health, safety and general welfare of borough residents through enforcement of building codes and zoning and developmental regulations, and which expedite and simplify interactions with complementary departments and constituencies.
  • 4. Objectives 1. Business Objectives • Create a database or improved filing system for all properties, both occupied and unoccupied, within the city. (The current process includes using tax maps that are divided into quadrants, and each structure has a letter and a number. In order to find owners and other information, the code enforcement officers go to courthouse records and look up the property by lot number. These records include property descriptions, names of owners, addresses, and contact names for residential or commercial property). • Simplify the property management process for the municipality by standardizing templates for permits, property inspection reports and routine correspondence to ensure consistency. This would improve the zoning office’s ability to communicate with their customers. • Simplify and improve the process of tracking permits. • Increase productivity of zoning officers by reducing clerical time in the office by one hour per day. • Create an electronic, easily updateable database of all zoning regulations and basic maps (tax maps). The goal is to allow easy access to the regulations so the zoning officers can research and respond to requests for property information in a timely manner. This database needs to be capable of extracting and importing information between documents; such as letters regarding complaints and violations. • Integrate with the existing Treasury Department system to provide information on services rendered and billing fees. • Ensure billing for services within 3 business days of service rendered. • Increase training of zoning staff by 100%. This training would include improvement of zoning practices in general as well as training on the specific new system that is created. 2. System objectives: • Allow for a PC-based system with end-user focus. • The system should contain an intuitive interface so it is easy to use for a non-technical staff. • The system needs to remain relatively basic considering budgetary and technology constraints. • The system will be developed externally by outsourcing any networking or programming needs. The zoning department (and municipality as a whole) does not have the resources within their budget to maintain an in-house IS staff.
  • 5. Context 1. Agents Outside the Company Residents / Property Owners a) Inflows Property Information Requests description: Requests for information on characteristics and specifications for a particular property in the borough media: paper form (initiated in person or by telephone) volume/frequency: average of two per week Zoning Interpretation Request description: A request for interpretation of a particular zoning law or code to ensure that a planned activity will comply with regulations media: by telephone or letter volume/frequency: averages one request per week Permit and Inspection Requests description: Requests for building or occupancy permits. Requests for inspections of properties, structures and construction projects required before permits can be issued media: by telephone or letter volume/frequency: average of three requests per week Property-Related Complaints description: Complaints about a borough property, commonly related to unsafe conditions, overgrown weeds or other “eyesores” media: telephone or in person; recorded on paper form volume/frequency: one per day b) Outflows Responses to information requests description: Property reports and other information as requested by residents and property owners media: paper volume/frequency: weekly Permits and Inspection Reports description: Completed permits and property inspection reports media: paper volume/frequency: daily Citations and warnings for violations description: Citations and formal warnings for violations of zoning codes and ordinances media: paper volume/frequency: approximately 25 per year
  • 6. District Magistrate a) Inflows Zoning-Related Rulings description: Rulings on zoning/code enforcement violations and appeals media: paper volume/frequency: monthly Fines Assessed Report description: A listing of fines assessed for zoning/code violations media: paper volume/frequency: monthly b) Outflows Recent Violations List description: List of most recent violations and citations which will require hearings and a ruling media: paper volume/frequency: monthly County Recorder of Deeds a) Inflows Changes to Records description: List of changes to ownership and property records media: paper volume/frequency: approximately 40 per year 2. Agents Inside the Company Borough Fire and Police Departments b) Outflows Violation Notification description: Notification of fire department to secure unsafe structures and notification of police regarding other violations which may require their involvement media: verbal or radio dispatch, recorded in paper report volume/frequency: average of three times per month Contact police department for assistance description: contact police department to assist zoning officer with enforcement or eviction activities media: verbal or radio dispatch, recorded in paper report volume/frequency: average of twice per month Borough Treasury Department a) Inflows Financial Reports description: Budget vs. Actual expenditure reports
  • 7. media: paper volume/frequency: monthly b) Outflows Service Reports description: Reports of zoning office activities and associated fees for billing purposes media: paper volume/frequency: daily Tax Status Update Report description: Notification of current tax status and any changes due to changes in occupancy or ownership for a property or structure media: paper volume/frequency: weekly Elected Officials – Director of Public Safety / Council Members / Mayor a) Inflows Direction and Planning description: Monthly meeting minutes and report. A list of upcoming activities and projects and a review of previous activities. media: paper volume/frequency: monthly New Ordinances and Codes description: A list of any new ordinances or codes enacted by elected officials media: paper documentation volume/frequency: averages three times per year Departmental Budget description: Zoning Department operating budget media: paper volume/frequency: annual Service Level Objectives description: Objectives and guidelines for execution and turnaround times for various departmental activities media: paper volume/frequency: twice per year
  • 8. b) Outflows Departmental activity reports description: Reports of all departmental activities completed or initiated in the previous week media: paper volume/frequency: weekly City Manager / Solicitor a) Inflows Legal Counsel description: Legal counsel including advice on the interpretation and application of ordinances media: paper memo volume/frequency: weekly New Projects Report description: List of new and upcoming projects within the borough that will require the involvement of the zoning department media: Verbal and paper report volume/frequency: weekly Borough Policies and Procedures description: Policies and Procedures documents that govern activities that are undertaken by all borough departments and agencies media: paper volume/frequency: six times per year b) Outflows Recent Violations List description: List of most recent violations, citations and discrepancies which involved zoning department involvement and action media: paper volume/frequency: weekly
  • 9. Process 1. Primary Business Functions Prepare and distribute monthly activity reports to Director of Public Safety. Process: Log the following zoning department activities as they are recorded and turned in by code enforcement officers, building inspectors, or the magistrate: • occupancy permits issued and in progress • building inspections completed and forthcoming • hearings scheduled and completed • citations issued Process: At the end of the month, summarize monthly activity pertaining to occupancy permits issued, building inspections completed, citations issued and hearings into a pre-formatted report and send via inter-office mail to Director of Public Safety for his / her review. • retrieve and research property history files on an as-needed basis Process: Record pertinent information pertaining to property history file request, such as: date of request, requester name, etc. Process: Remove property history files from archives and make copies, if necessary Process: Forward requested information to requester • issue citations, building permits, eviction notices Process: Prepare document Process: Mail document via certified mail to recipient
  • 10. Issue Permits. Process: Gather all verbal and written requests for permits Process: Authorize or deny permits on a case by case basis Process: Issue permits or denial letters Issue Citations. Process: Gather all verbal and written complaints Process: Research complaints against current codes and regulations Process: Issue citations when research shows violation of current codes and regulations 2. Events/Triggers Inbound Events a) Request made for property history information b) Request for Building Permit c) Request for Occupancy Permit d) Application filed for re-zoning of property e) Residential/Commercial complaint filed regarding zoning violations, building hazards etc. Outbound Events a) Mail property history information to requester b) Issue Citation c) Issue Occupancy Permit d) Issue and record decision pertaining to property zoning requests e) Research and respond to Residential/Commercial complaints f) Issue Building Permits
  • 11. 3. Roles/Functions Director of Public Safety a) Manage Property Zoning Department b) Manage Police and Fire Departments c) Manage Magisterial Office Code Enforcement Officer a) Enforce property zoning code b) Enforce building codes c) Issue building permits d) Issue occupancy permits Building Inspector a) Inspect buildings to ensure adherence to codes Magistrate a) Conduct hearings to determine outcome regarding eviction cases b) Conduct hearings to determine outcome regarding property disputes c) Issue citations and eviction notices Data/Subject Areas 1. Properties • Location • Owners/Responsible Parties • Property Use/zoning • Property Characteristics (size, zoning, dimensions, public utilities, etc.) • History of the property (past violations, former owners, etc.) • Tax information
  • 12. 2. Permits • Type of permit (building, occupancy, health) • Inspection required • Permit Fee • History of permits issued for individual • Reoccurring permits (i.e., health, machines, etc.) • Date issued 3. Complaints • Code enforcement officer • Date/time • Type of complaint • Citizen/location • Actions taken 4. Inspections • Inspector • Inspectee • Locations • Times • History • Problems/follow-up 5. Reports • Time period • Summary of Department Activities (Inspections, Permits Issued, Citations Issued, Complaints addressed) • Departmental concerns/issues
  • 13. Issues and considerations 1.) The zoning office has a limited number of users and resources due to the budget constraints of a small municipality. 2.) The zoning office would need the ability to scale up the system in order to allow growth in the department. 3.) The system will also need to allow for integration with additional groups as needed in the future. 4.) The system design will need to be basic enough to minimize support and maintenance costs. Since the work will probably be outsourced, the users will be responsible for a significant amount of the system’s maintenance. 5.) In addition to other problems that outsourcing creates, the zoning office will also need to consider security issues relating to confidential property information. Terminology 1.) Ordinance -- The City of Monessen Zoning Ordinance, including the Official Zoning Map and Official Street Classification Map, as amended. 2.) Permit -- A document issued by the proper city authority authorizing the applicant to undertake certain activities. 3.) Code Enforcement Officer -- The administrative officers charged with the duty of enforcing the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance or their officially designated assistants.

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