P&Z willing to open on Fridays if city, county provide funding

Published 8:26 am Thursday, May 4, 2017

If Danville and Boyle County will provide the funding, the Planning and Zoning office will likely expand back to a five-day work week.

P&Z officials have maintained that the expansion is not necessary based on current workloads. Nonetheless, they said Wednesday they would consider expanding from the current four-day work week if the city and county allocate the necessary funding in their final approved budgets

“Respecting the city and county’s desire to have Planning and Zoning open five days a week, and with the possibility that additional funding for Planning and Zoning may be included in the city and/or county’s final budgets, what I would suggest is that after the city and county budgets have been finalized … the budget committee would sit down again then with the new director and discuss the final budget and whether or not it would fund partial or full staffing of the Planning and Zoning office on Fridays,” said Terry Manon as he presented a report from the P&Z Budget Committee. “The results of that discussion … would be reviewed and discussed by the full Planning and Zoning Commission.”

Ben Kleppinger/ben.kleppinger@amnews.com
Danville Mayor Mike Perros addresses members of the Danville-Boyle County Planning and Zoning Commission during the commission’s monthly meeting Wednesday.

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Danville Mayor Mike Perros attended the P&Z meeting Wednesday morning and asked for clarification on what was being proposed.

“If the city and the county voted to increase your budget to service the community five days a week — if I heard you correctly, you would then take that into deliberation to determine whether or not the commission would in fact be open five days a week. Is that what I heard?” Perros asked.

Manon said he thinks the decision couldn’t be made by the P&Z Budget Committee — it would have to brought back to the full commission for a decision.

“It seems to me,” Perros responded, “That if the city and the county committed in our budget to fund you to do five days a week —” 

“I can’t think of any reason why we wouldn’t,” Manon said.

“OK, that’s what I needed clarification on,” Perros said. “Thank you.”

“And to follow up, I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t either,” P&Z Chairman Jerry Leber said. “I think the Budget Committee would bring that back to us as a recommendation and we would have a motion and follow up and approve that.”

Elected officials with the city and county have been vocally critical of P&Z’s four-day work week in recent months, and some have been criticizing the shorter week for more than a year. Perros has said the four-day work week sends “the wrong message” and makes it look like Danville is “not open for business.”

In his report, Manon said that during an April 17 Budget Committee meeting, city and county officials discussed various suggestions for how to expand to five days without adding cost, such as staggering work weeks.

A staggered work schedule that kept the P&Z office open five days a week with the same number of hours worked now would result in the office being understaffed three out of the five days, Manon said.

Business clients who use the P&Z office often need the services of the full staff because the different employees have different specialties, Manon said.

“They have tried staggered work schedules in the past that have reduced the department’s ability to meet the needs of the building professionals,” he said. “Building professionals account for about 75 percent of our interactions, and they need access to the full staff to ensure that their questions are answered when they do come in to the office.”

Manon said current P&Z Director Paula Bary, who is retiring at the end of July, has estimated it would cost roughly $11,000 to increase the salary of the new director to have him work five days a week. Bary has estimated it would cost $22,000 to fully staff the office on Fridays, Manon said.

Officials have also batted around $25,000 as the figure needed to keep P&Z open on Fridays. In its preliminary budget, Danville has $12,500 listed to pay for the expansion. That would increase the city’s funding for the agency to $87,500.

Boyle County’s initial budget proposal does not list any increase for Planning and Zoning beyond its current funding level of $65,000, but the county has not yet discussed the subject during its ongoing budget workshops.

Planning and Zoning’s budget also expects about $85,000 in funding from fees it charges customers.

“Based on the increased funding from the city, chances look relatively good that it will become five days,” Leber said after Wednesday’s meeting. “But we don’t know what date that will happen until we hear from the county as well, so that’s still a bridge to be crossed when we get there.”