Soon, a Web site will track status of projects in Crook
By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: July 05. 2007 5:00AM PST
In its ongoing push to offer more services online, Crook County is launching a new system to offer residents, developers and contractors a way to track building permits and inspections.
Crook County continues to be one of the state’s fastest-growing areas, and the new system will streamline interactions between departments and developers and building officials.
Officials plan to begin implementing new software to tie together Crook County’s and Prineville’s building and planning permits work flow this week. Sim Ogle, the county’s information technology director, said the system should be ready for public use by early October.
“You start building up a fully electronic way of communicating between the departments — that’s the idea,” Ogle said.
Once the system is up and running, people will be able to search the county’s Web site with a specific address and find out what permits the property owners have filed.
“It’s kind of basic information, but you can see if you’ve filed a building permit or planning permit, you can see where it’s at in the process,” Ogle said.
He added that there will be a more detailed, password-protected Web site for contractors and developers to follow the status of their projects online or schedule an inspection.
If the contractor supplies a cell phone number, the system can send a text message saying when a permit has been approved or if it has been held up for some reason.
“So it will be the first time where contractors are able to work really closely as part of the process, instead of just being bystanders to it once they initially submit their permit,” he said.
The software for the county cost about $86,500, Ogle said, which was paid for out of the county’s software reserve fund.
In addition to providing a service to the public, the new software will cut down on paperwork for the building and planning departments. Ogle said the same system has been used in Molalla and some counties in Washington, but he believes this is the first time in Oregon that a county and city have joined their systems electronically.
Deschutes County’s Web site allows people to monitor permits online, a service that has been offered for several years.
“Deschutes is an example unto itself because they financially are so solvent, they have some fantastic services they offer,” Ogle said. “I work very closely with my counterparts over there, and there’s no doubt I spend a lot of time looking at how they deliver information.”
Ogle is Crook County’s first IT director and started in the role in January. He previously served as manager of the county’s Geographic Information Systems and continues in that role. He said he hopes to ultimately hook up the online permit system with GIS so that people doing map research would also see information on building permits and inspections.
“It really shows that not only do the (county) commissioners support technological advancement here and provide the finances to do that, but I think with the growth we’re experiencing … the citizens expect service to be online too,” he said. “We’ve got the support and we’ve got the demand to put things online, so this is really just the start of a lot of things that have to happen.”