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Kitsap County receives two national awards for innovative programs

Kitsap County was recently recognized by the National Association of Counties (NACo) for implementing innovative county government programs to better serve area residents. The county received NACo Achievement Awards for the RePower Kitsap Program and the Department of Community Development’s rework of the single-family residence permit process.

“This is a great example of how Kitsap County continues to develop new ways to provide services to our residents and increase efficiencies in the way we deliver these service,” said Board of County Commissioners chair Josh Brown. “It’s just two examples of the many innovations I’ve seen in county operations.”

In collaboration with the Kitsap County Homebuilders Association, DCD tackled its processing of single-family permits in July 2012, with the aim of reducing the time it takes to approve a permit.

Listening to customers and using Lean process improvement methodologies, the DCD reduced the number of “in-house” processing days for approval from 26 calendar days to an average of 10-14 calendar days depending on submittals. It increased the number of first-time approvals from 4 percent to 55 percent. Customer surveys show that over 75 percent of those applying for a residential permit are satisfied or extremely satisfied with the service and help they’ve received from the department. While processing times were significantly improved, the code standards were not reduced, thus ensuring the permitted activity met federal, state and local laws and codes; nor were new staff hired.

“The department’s transformation has been hard work by everyone during some of the most trying times any organization could endure,” DCD director Larry Keeton said. “Yet, these folks demonstrated, and continue to demonstrate, the old DCD is dead and buried. This National Award speaks highly of the professionalism of this team. It’s a job well done, an award well deserved.”

The project was a collaborative effort. “The award isn’t the Department’s alone,” said Keeton. “The Board of Commissioners was instrumental in providing the necessary political and financial support to implement the Lean process. And, the Kitsap County Homebuilders Association had members volunteer their valuable time to help identify issues and solutions. This has truly been a productive partnership that benefits the community as a whole.”

The NACo Achievement Award program is a non-competitive program that recognizes counties for improving the management of and services provided by county government. Since the program’s inception in 1970, the NACo Achievement Award program has honored thousands of county government initiatives that have improved service delivery, achieved greater cost efficiency, provided improved customer service, and helped to develop a better-trained workforce.

RePower Kitsap Program

Kitsap County used Energy Efficiency & Conservation Block Grant funding to launch the RePower Kitsap program in February 2011. RePower Kitsap is a countywide program dedicated to helping residents save money through energy efficiency, as they increase the comfort, health and safety of homes, and create local jobs. RePower Kitsap provides in-home energy assessments, energy-efficiency financing and incentives, and a local, skilled workforce to make achieving these goals easier and more affordable. Kitsap County partnered with the City of Bainbridge Island to establish a low-interest energy-efficiency loan program with Kitsap Credit Union to provide access to financing for energy-efficiency projects.

The county also partnered with the Washington State University Energy Office, Conservation Services Group, Washington State Department of Commerce, Puget Sound Energy and Cascade Natural Gas to provide extensive marketing and incentives for the completion of home energy upgrades.

The RePower Kitsap program has helped address an important need in the local community for improved comfort in homes, reduced energy bills and increased job opportunities. This effort aligns well with Kitsap County’s internal energy conservation program and synergizes internal efforts to conserve energy and save taxpayer dollars with direct actions taxpayers can take to save energy in their own homes. A summary of key accomplishments of the RePower Kitsap program is provided below.

  • Funded more than 500 home energy assessments in 12 communities throughout Kitsap County from February 2011-November 2012.
  • Completed 19 post-upgrade energy assessments to compare EPS values before and after energy upgrades took place. Upgrades completed at these homes saved 164,000 kWh in annual electricity use.
  • Funded 32 loans through May 2013 to provide over $246,000 for energy upgrades in homes.
  • Created more than six local jobs for previously unemployed and under-employed construction professionals and provided training in conducting home energy assessments.

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