It could be much easier for the public to obtain building permits and schedule inspections now that new software is being rolled out at the Washington Building Department. 

Public Works Director John Nilges said the recently approved purchase of new software will allow for the online scheduling and payment of inspections and all building permits.

The new software also permits users to make payments with a credit card, which they can’t do now.

“This will eliminate the need to come to city hall,” Nilges said. “And in addition, schedule inspections online, which they can’t do now — this is a huge deal for our citizens.” 

Today if someone comes in for an occupancy permit they have to pay in cash or with a check. There have been many times that people have tried to pay with a credit or debit card, and then must leave and come back with cash or a check, Nilges said.

“It is a pretty big step from what we do today,” he added. “For the permitting public we are getting into the 21st century.” 

The city is purchasing an upgraded ArcGIS Software from Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. at the cost of $45,000. It should be installed and in use this winter, Nilges noted.

The new software is compatible with the finance department’s Tyler Technologies which has streamlined other municipal departments. 

“This will free up administrative staff and overall it makes the office run more efficient,” Nilges said.

In addition, companies based in another area, such as a new restaurant, opening a location in Washington, currently must send a representative to city hall to pay for building permits. 

This would eliminate that step and allow for those fees to be paid  from the company headquarters.

Tyler Technologies

According to Mary Sprung, finance director, the city has been using Tyler Technologies for several years.

“We work with Tyler in many capacities. It started with utility billing, but it has taken time to build out,” she said. “Our main focus is to make it convenient for those customers.”

Sprung noted that the convenience of paying online for building permits was a driving factor in the purchase of the ArcGIS Software

“That is the biggest thing for the building department, to pay online and to tie into the accounting software so there are no double entries,” she said.

The city’s purchase of ArcGIS Software also will allow for the Washington Parks and Recreation Department customers to rent facilities online.  

Last year the parks department began using the Tyler Technologies parks and rec module with the ultimate goal of giving the options for online registrations for events and credit card transactions.

Sprung said the ArcGIS Software is the final piece for that department.

“The parks department is waiting on that component and then it will be complete,” she said. “Through the new system people can rent pavilions online.”

Business Licenses

On Monday, the city council will review a request by Sprung to prorate business license fees.

Currently the city offers the full- or half-year business license purchase options.

Sprung said the city has several requests to prorate business licenses and now that other changes are being implemented using Tyler Technologies, it is a good time to offer prorated licenses.

“We have had so many requests for prorating business licenses, now is the perfect time to address it,” she said.

If approved by the council, the fee will be based on the date the application is received. 

The city also is reviewing its rate structure which will be taken to city council, Sprung said, stating it would provide a more equitable approach and make it easier for business owners to pay online when the new business license software is implemented by the end of the fiscal year.