cdd2008M229 by chrstphr


									                           MARTIN COUNTY, FLORIDA
                         INTER-OFFICE MEMORANDUM
          TO: Duncan Ballantyne                  DATE: January 18, 2008
              County Administrator

      FROM: Jeff Oris
            Community Development Director

  SUBJECT: Urban Design Services

In light of the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council’s recent termination of their
agreement with the County and CRA to perform urban design review of development
projects and the poor response to a recent County Request for Proposals for an urban
design firm. I have worked with Growth Management Director Nicki van Vonno to devise
the most efficient and cost effective manner to insure quality review of development
proposals both in and out of the CRA.

Currently, the Growth Management Department utilized the services of an out-of-State,
on-call employee. This position was utilized an average of 26 hours per pay period, at a
rate of $24.73 per hour (including FICA and retirement), and additional postage costs
averaged $110 per month for a cost of approximately $18,038 per year. The Board of
County Commissioners was concerned about a potential delay in review due to the on-call
employee’s location out-of-State, and authorized the release of a Request for Proposals
from local urban designers. Only two proposals were received. Neither firm appeared to
have significant experience in the type of work outlined in the RFP (although a selection
committee has not been convened to make a final determination as to this) and the
anticipated costs for either firm based on their stated rates (averaging $150 per hour for
an architect) would be approximately $93,600 per year EXCLUDING any other
involvement by either firm’s non-architectural staff (clerical, etc.)

In the 2006-2007 Fiscal Year, the CRA utilized the services of the Treasure Coast Regional
Planning Council’s Urban Design Studio for review of proposals for consistency with CRA
regulations at a rate of approximately $200 per hour plus expenses. The CRA utilized
approximately 221 hours of TCRPC staff time with total costs including expenses of
$47,000 for the year. At the rates submitted by the responders to the County’s RFP, we
would be looking at a minimum cost of $33,150 for similar service. It should also be noted
that the CRA is in need of significant urban design assistance in updating and
standardizing design regulations and architectural guidelines in all seven CRA districts.
The cost of undertaking these updates and standardization is not reflected in the figures

Taking into account the above facts, the combination of need for both Growth
Management and the CRA would be a minimum of $126,750 with a maximum that we
could anticipate to be in the $200,000 range.

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In recent discussions I have had with Michael Busha, Executive Director of the TCRPC.
Mr. Busha indicated that he has recently hired two new urban designers out of the
University of Miami School of Architecture at or about a salary of $45,000 annually. Mr.
Busha further indicated that he believed there to be several other excellent candidates
that could be hired by the County/CRA immediately at the same level of pay and indicated
that if the County/CRA were to hire such an individual, the Council would be happy to
assist in additional training as to our local efforts. At a $45,000 salary level, total cost to
the County with benefits would be approximately $64,000.

With the facts, I would like to request that we re-classify one of the vacant CRA Program
Manager positions in the CRA to a CRA-Urban Designer position and that we fill this
position as soon as possible with the assistance of the TCRPC. I would also propose an
agreement between the CRA and the County for the provision of urban design services for
which the CRA would invoice the County based on an hourly rate equal to the hourly cost
to the CRA of the Urban Designer. I would anticipate this cost at approximately $31.00
per hour. Using last year’s cost to GMD and assuming the CRA taking the additional
expense, the cost to each would have been $20,956 to the GMD and $43,044 to the CRA,
well within currently budgeted amounts and almost a 50% savings over MINIMUM
anticipated costs of contracting the service out ($64,000 as opposed to $126,750). I must
point out that there still may be some need for some minimal outside assistance and
limited start-up cost (ie. specialized office supplies, drafting table, basic graphics software)
in the initial year of employment.

Important to note is that this would not only be a cost savings but it would also be a
significant enhancement to the level of service provided as the employee would be housed
in the Administration Center and thus will be more accessible to residents and property
owners. There will be a greater opportunity to meet with the Designer, at any point
during the review, and residents/property owners could be brought into our design system
at initial contact with the County instead of after the submittal of drawings as currently
happens due to our designers being located off-site. This will limit the costs of regulations
as changes can be made long before the resident/property owners design professionals
have invested significant amount of time and effort into plans that do not meet the
County/CRA’s standards.

In summary, the re-classification of a CRA planner position to a CRA-Urban Designer
position and the immediate filling of the position will significantly increase the level of
service provided by both the Community Redevelopment Agency and the County’s Growth
Management Department as well as save (with the exception of minimal start-up costs
and first year outside assistance) approximately $62,000 dollars annually.


cc:     Taryn Kryzda, Assistant County Administrator
        Jim Sherman, Assistant County Administrator
        Nicki van Vonno, Growth Management Director

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