Work wanes for Truckee building department | SierraSun.com

Work wanes for Truckee building department

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunPacita Ravey, a public service technician for Town of Truckee and Dennis Troy, an assistant planner for Town of Truckee, look over plans for home at Donner Crest Wednesday morning.

Nearly a year after slow construction resulted in the Town of Truckee’s first-ever layoffs, things are still slow for the town’s building department.

Truckee Town Council approved the layoff last fall when the normally self-sufficient department was nearly $1 million into the red. The cost-cutting measures brought the building department back into the black, but an even slower construction season this summer may mean the town will have to cut costs again.

“If we roll back a year it looked like we might be as much as $400,000 in the hole but through pretty active management, employees going above and beyond in being flexible and one layoff, we managed to come in about even,” said Town Manager Tony Lashbrook. “That’s a significant success.”

Last year the building department’s staff went down from 13 to eight, said Mike Lavallee, but only one was laid off.

Employees have also taken a 10 percent cut in hours and pay, Lavallee said, taking on other duties from engineering inspections to plowing the roads in the winter.

That added up to ending the fiscal year in June at $16,000 in the black, rather than the projected $400,000 loss, Lavallee said.

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But this summer has been even bleaker than last construction season, he said.

“Commercial work has remained steady but permits issued is down to 25 percent of normal, and residential is down to 10 percent of average,” Lavallee said. “We’ve only received 28 applications this entire year.”

Most of the work coming in is maintenance, renovation and remodels, he said.

“We’ll take stock the same as we did last fall to see what we can do,” Lashbrook said. “We’ve got a really strong crew, which is really important to have in place when the construction economy goes back into an upswing.”

A new cost-saving measure has been implemented that will also help would-be builders, Lavallee said.

An express plan review will push small projects through in one or two days compared to a regular five days to two weeks, Lavallee said.

While he said he doesn’t expect the new policy to drum up more business, he said he hopes it will save time and cost.

“The purpose of the express plan review is to improve public service,” Lavallee said.

To see if your project qualifies, the Building and Safety Division can be reached at 582-7820.