Inter-Departmental Correspondence

Planning and Building Department



June 27, 2011


July 12, 2011







Honorable Board of Supervisors



Jim Eggemeyer, Community Development Director



Amendment to the Planning and Building Department’s Service Fee Schedule



Adopt a Resolution amending the Planning and Building Department’s Service Fee Schedules to include an Information Technology Surcharge.



Since 1990, the Planning and Building Department has been utilizing different versions of Tidemark’s Automated Permit Processing and Tracking System, currently called Advantage. In 2001, Tidemark was purchased by Accela Government Software (AGS), our current maintenance provider. Although AGS has continued to provide support for Advantage, it no longer invests in the development of any functional enhancements. This product is now considered an outdated system that has reached its end of life and is burdened with an accelerating maintenance fee schedule with no new significant upgrades to support the system.


The Department also has an immediate and ongoing need to replace older network appliances. At present, over fifty per cent of the Department’s desktops are out of warranty and several printers need to be replaced.



Numerous jurisdictions throughout California have information technology fees in effect, and the majority of nearby jurisdictions polled apply their fee as a percentage ranging from 2% to 7.5% of permit fees. The purpose of this surcharge is to fund the purchase, enhancement and maintenance of new permitting software, as well as to purchase replacement hardware on which to run the system. In order to fund the upgrade of the Tidemark Advantage system and to implement a hardware replacement plan, we propose the establishment of a 4% Information Technology Surcharge to be applied to the total planning and building fees paid for any given permit, but not to fees collected by or on behalf of other agencies. Applying this surcharge to typical Planning and Building permit fees, a water heater replacement permit would cost an additional $4.76, a bathroom remodel permit valued at $10,000 would add $39.36, a kitchen remodel permit valued at $20,000 would add $58.08, a new 2,400 square foot single-family home would add $482.69, and a new use permit for a cell site would add $156.48.


Based on the past two years’ actual revenues, it is estimated that the proposed surcharge would generate $140,000 annually, depending on overall permit activity. Funds received from the Information Technology Surcharge will be set aside in a separate account and used solely to offset the costs of replacing the current Advantage system, ongoing maintenance costs, and network appliance replacement.


Different vendors are currently being evaluated, and a final selection will be made within the next 12 months. Should the choice be to upgrade to Accela Automation, the modern web-based permitting system developed by AGS to succeed Advantage, the estimated cost could be as much as $600,000 for additional software licenses for enhancements, customizations, maintenance and implementation, with ongoing annual maintenance costs of an estimated $61,000. The total cost of a two-year replacement plan for the Department’s desktops is estimated at $65,000.


The proposed 4% surcharge would be in effect for five years from the effective date of September 12, 2011 and would be reviewed after three years to determine if any downward adjustment is appropriate.


The Resolution has been reviewed and approved by County Counsel as to form.


The approval of the Planning and Building Department’s proposal for an Information Technology Surcharge contributes to the Livable Community 2025 Shared Vision outcome because it will fund innovative information technology and up-to-date hardware that will enhance efficiency of permit processing and customer service.



The Information Technology Surcharge will cover the cost of the implementation of a new automated permitting system and network appliance replacement plan. It is estimated to generate $140,000 annually over a five-year period, from September 12, 2011 to September 11, 2016, at which time the fee would automatically sunset.