More staff is coming to the City of Boise to address the city’s growth.
On Tuesday, the Boise City Council approved a raft of budget changes, including several that will add 12 positions to the city’s payroll to manage a growing workload. The bulk of this comes from 6.5 new positions in the Planning and Development Services Department to handle the deluge of building permits and other requests as the city booms.
PDS needs extra support
Mayor Lauren McLean thanked the department’s staff for their long hours to process all of the applications in recent months prior to the vote. She said this would be enough to handle the current level of development, but she anticipated there might have to be even more staff added in the next few years to keep the department on track.
“Staff are feeling very overwhelmed with five year highs and we’re at 184% of normal,” McLean said. “To their best guess, they proposed this and they’re grateful we’re considering it now, but just like in so many departments at a growing city we’ll have to have that conversation eventually about what’s next.”
This will add two associate planners, a data analyst, a plans examiner, a plans permit review tech, a fire inspector and a part-time planning technician. The additional cost of these staff members will be paid for by the increases in development application fees paid by developers and other applicants to the city for these services.
Boise’s Planning and Development Services Department had a difficult year. At the same time as the boom in development continued, there were several key staff departures. This includes the resignations of PDS Director Mark Lavin in March and Deputy Director Darren Fluke in the summer of 2020 and a flurry of other staff departures to other local government agencies.
A memo attached to the budget request said the increase in workload has made it difficult to retain and recruit staff members and the time it takes to process applications increased.
Hiring and American Rescue Plan back up
Another 3.5 positions will be added in the city’s Finance and Administration Department to track and administer the millions in American Rescue Plan funds coming in from the federal government. These positions will be paid for by the funds themselves and are the city says they are necessary to keep up with the numerous compliance requirements set by officials at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
A senior HR Administrator and an employment services coordinator will also be added to the city’s Human Resources Department to help the city fill the vacancies it has after it delayed hiring during the COVID-19 pandemic and looks to staff up to address growth. Parks and Recreation and the Boise Public Library has a number of vacancies open.
The annual cumulative cost of these positions will be $196,000.
City Council Member Lisa Sanchez said the city should look for candidates skilled in diversity, equity and inclusion issues to help build a workplace that lives up to the city’s welcoming values.
“HR plays such a pivotal role in our organization and in being a part of other hiring committees I stressed the importance of having folks with a strong commitment to DEI and knowledge of that,” Sanchez said. “I just strongly encourage we look for folks like that who come to the city with that knowledge and with that expertise as much as we can because it’s so important to how we create our organization moving forward.”