Dallas executives have demanded more improvements in the city’s construction department after a briefing this week revealed extreme delays just in answering phones.
Newly elected city councilor Paul Ridley said builders need to know phone delays are better so they keep calling Dallas.
“What is of most concern is that they are abandoning Dallas to expand into other cities,” Ridley said.
Homebuilder Alan Hoffman just completed a $ 900,000 home in northeast Dallas, but he said it took months longer than expected and was costing more, at least in part because of the delays. of the construction department.
“It really puts Dallas at a disadvantage in the metro area,” Hoffman said. “I know there are a lot of good people in the city who want to do their jobs efficiently, and in many cases they are not given the right tools.”
After years of complaints about delays from the Dallas construction department, Toyota Consulting examined the operation of the call center and found a list of deficiencies that were detailed in this week’s briefing.
More than half of callers were left in a queue for more than 15 minutes.
Technological improvements now allow call takers to deliver better information faster.
“Obviously this is an accomplishment and progress is being made. It’s always a frustrating time to wait on the phone, ”said Gay Donnell Willis, Board Member.
There are still many other unresolved issues, according to Dallas Homebuilders Association executive director Phil Crone.
“It was certainly not a mission accomplished moment for the construction department’s woes,” he said.
Zoning consultant Tabitha Wheeler-Reagan said simple issues that were previously handled on site now require weeks, if not months, of paperwork that cripples some of her clients.
“We know that our economy is run by small businesses and that it only takes one or two things to put a small business out of business before you start it,” she said.
The Dallas City Council government performance committee heard the construction department briefing on Monday.
“I think it’s time for senior management to reflect on how we allowed this dysfunctional situation to arise in the first place. And second, how we let it go on for years. There have been complaints about the building permits section and their responsiveness, for years, ”Ridley said.
Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Reich agreed that the efficiency of the building department is the key to funding the city’s programs.
“The sooner we can complete development and projects in the city of Dallas, the more properties we will get on the tax roll contributing to the services we provide in terms of public safety and infrastructure,” she said. declared.
Some members asked if more people should be hired.
Committee chair Cara Mendelsohn said the Toyota review shows the city needs to fix the problems and not just throw people on the problems.
“We must continue. We have a lot of different parts of this department that aren’t working as expected, ”Mendelsohn said.
Mendelsohn said construction service managers will be called back to the government performance committee every month until all issues are resolved.