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Examiner
  • City is listening to the needs of business

  • In a recent column James Everett outlined two proposals brought forward by local architect Jim Gamble regarding the city’s construction and development policies and communications (“Communication needs to improve at City Hall,” Sept. 21). Everett stated that Gamble’s proposals were presented to me and other members of the council and “to date, there has been no follow-up action.”

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  • In a recent column James Everett outlined two proposals brought forward by local architect Jim Gamble regarding the city’s construction and development policies and communications (“Communication needs to improve at City Hall,” Sept. 21). Everett stated that Gamble’s proposals were presented to me and other members of the council and “to date, there has been no follow-up action.”
    Encouraging business development is critical to the prosperity of our city. Supporting small business was a key message of my campaign. I dedicated a mailing to this topic stating that “the job of city government is to understand the challenges facing small business owners, identify the gaps in support, and drive policies that fill those gaps.” I pledged to challenge time-consuming, costly and inefficient processes that are obstacles to new construction and redevelopment, and I am following through on that promise.
    At my urging, and with the support of the council, the Audit and Finance Committee, on which I serve, has directed our management analyst to perform an audit of the current processes within the Community Development Department. I contacted Gamble on Sept. 11 and asked him to consult with the management analyst during this process so the policies and procedures can be evaluated in practice, not just in the abstract. Gamble is one of four industry professionals who I asked to participate in the process. I also asked each to recommend others who may have valuable insights and experiences about the city’s construction and development regulations and practices.
    Also on Sept. 11 I asked Gamble to review the 2012 building codes presented to the City Council on Sept. 10. The proposed codes include the building code, residential code, fire code, life-safety code, plumbing code, mechanical code, electric code, and existing building code. The presentation was made by David Lehman, building inspection manager for the city of Independence, and supported by the Code Advisory Panel, consisting of representatives from construction, design, engineering, building, and trades industries. The proposed codes are available for public review through Nov. 19, and the council vote will take place Dec. 3.
    Everett revealed that a portion of Gamble’s second proposal included public disclosure of the compensation, benefits and retirement of elected officials and top staff. This information is contained in the city budget and is available to the public. I agree that this information is difficult to find on the city website, which is why I have offered to cover the cost for any citizen who wants a printed copy. The offer still stands.
    Everett clearly was not aware of the follow-up conversations I initiated with Gamble in response to his proposal to form a construction and development board. While no such ordinance has yet been proposed, the opportunity to meet the objectives of improving dialogue and “providing higher standards of service, transparency, efficiency, cooperation and communication” has been presented to Gamble and his colleagues within the industries.
    Page 2 of 2 - Eileen Weir represents the city’s 4th District on the Independence City Council.
     
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