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Published: Saturday, 11/3/2001

Streamlined Toledo permit plan ready for month's test run

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner rolled out a new high-tech process for scheduling building inspections yesterday.

The system completes a project that Mr. Finkbeiner and city council have been working on as long as he's been mayor: the establishment of a “one-stop shop.”

The system, which costs about $1 million, including travel expenses to examine other city's systems, consists of computer software and hardware that dramatically cut the time to get construction projects inspected.

Joined by city inspectors, city council members, and contractors, Mr. Finkbeiner outlined the Toledo Online Permit Manager yesterday.

“Even though it's late by eight years, it was one of the targets of this administration to get a one-stop shop,” the mayor said.

Mr. Finkbeiner promised a one-stop shop in his 1993 mayoral campaign. In 1995, the mayor announced his goal of forming an automated permit system that would rid Toledo of its reputation for taking too long to inspect projects.

He blamed the long delay on the fear of buying a system that would prove a costly mistake. He said the contract was signed three months ago with Accela, Inc., of San Francisco. Accela President Stephen Tang, who was present, said Toledo's system is the most sophisticated in the country.

The system will allow contractors to order and pay for permits over the telephone or the internet. They now have to go to the building inspector's office on the 16th floor to obtain and pay for the permit. The system will be tried in limited uses for a month to eliminate bugs before it is fully operational.

Contractors and homeowners will be able to schedule inspections with an automated system that will have a wireless connection with inspectors, filling their inspection schedule automatically. Once an inspection is completed, it will be filed electronically, and the contractor will be notified by e-mail, saving the hours or days involved under the present system in which inspection reports are filed manually.

Dan Bollin, president of Transtar Electric and president of the Toledo chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association, said time spent waiting for permits and inspections is costly.

In 20 years of contracting work, “this is the best thing I've ever seen happen,” he said.



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