Poulsbo’s growth leads to need for inspector

The city of Poulsbo has approved the Building Department’s request to hire another inspector in an effort to keep up with the city’s growth.

There are four vacancies in the building department, but the priority is being placed on hiring a building inspector as there is only one currently certified.

“In 2021 we’ve already issued 150 permits in the first quarter, and we have a valuation of just over $200,000, so this reflects an enormous front-load effect for the year, and we have more to come,” said Anthony Burgess, senior engineering technician. “Right now our building department is made up of two phenomenal people, our permit tech Christine and our only building inspector Craig Frazier. This puts a high amount of pressure on them both to maintain our level of service, but with the counter now opening there is another layer of work to consider.”

The decision to wait to hire came in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With the start of COVID everything slowed down, so we felt it was appropriate to not fill that position again and wait to see if the valuations for future years would support hiring an additional inspector,” Burgess said.

The Building Department for the inspector has set a $76,000 salary with $37,000 in benefits equaling to just about $112,000 a year. The total assessed valuation of the projects for this year is roughly $11.7 million.

There are 12 projects under construction in Poulsbo now with a growing list waiting for permit approval.

“Just to give you an idea of how much development is happening in Poulsbo right now, we have close to 200 single-family homes that will be coming online in the next 12 to 18 months. Now, that’s not constructed but we will have a slew of building permits being submitted and needing to be reviewed and subsequently inspected,” Burgess said.

Construction would begin in either late 2021 or 2022 with inspection in 2022 or 2023.

In the pipeline are 27 permits ready to be issued for single-family homes and four for commercial projects. There are also seven for single-family homes and one commercial property under review.

That does not include the permitting process for developments such as Poulsbo Meadows, which has 15 single-family lots that have yet to be permitted for construction as part of the ongoing project.

“We had this presented to us during the Public Works Committee, and it was really shocking to realize how hard our staff is having to work to keep up with the workload,” Councilwoman Connie Lord said. “This will help us keep that level of service our customers have come to expect and help our staff not get so overwhelmed.”