Kent County Levy Court offers online permitting

Terry RogersGovernment & Politics, Milford Headline Story

Kent County Levy Court recently announced the launch of My Government Online (MGO), a suite of programs that will allow for digital permitting options. Residents and businesses are able to register online and perform a wide range of permitting tasks.

“MGO has advanced Kent County from a paper to a digital environment and has proven to improve customer service and workflow within Kent county,” Kim Crouch, Kent County Information Technology Director, said.

Once registered, the program allows residents and businesses to submit building or sewer permit requests, upload digital plans and follow the project status. Email and text messages are available throughout the review and inspection process. Contractors can schedule and track inspections from desktop as well as mobile devices. MGO also allows for payment via credit cards both online as well as in person.

“This will make the process much easier,” Judy Diogo, President of the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce, said. “It is more effective and more efficient. People can follow projects throughout all the stages, especially with the ability to get updates through texts and emails. It will help to see the timeframe play out and, as any contractor will tell you, time is money. Anything that saves time will also save money.”

The project was a joint effort between the Planning Services Department, Public Works, Finance and Information Technology. The soft launch of MGO occurred January 11, 2021, in order for various departments to monitor progress and work out any issues prior to an official announcement. MGO has already shown itself to be an improvement in customer service, interdepartmental workflow and interaction with outside sources. According to officials, overall efficiency has been improved since the launch of MGO.

“Planning Services processes between 200 and 500 permits per month, depending on the time of year,” Sarah Kiefer, Planning Services Director, said. “The transition to digital permitting makes it easier for customers to submit applications and monitor progress, speeds up internal review processes thereby saving time for applicants and frees our staff to provide even better service to customers rather than managing paper files.”

After Hurricane Katrina destroyed government records in Louisiana in 2005, the South Central Planning and Development Commission of Louisiana was developed. The agency was tasked with developing a software suite for the parishes of Louisiana and this is where the MGO modules were created. Because they were made by government for government, they were a perfect fit for Kent County. The South Central Planning and Development Commission and Kent County Levy Court entered into an intergovernmental lease agreement in 2018 for the MGO program. There were no upfront costs or setup fees.

The cost to lease the Permitting, Code Enforcement and Planning and Zoning modules is $42,000 per year which includes free upgrades along with technical support for both the county and its customers. Residents and builders can call the MGO helpdesk to ask questions regarding account creation, inspection scheduling and more.

“COVID may have made it even more necessary,” Diogo said. “COVID has taught us all to be more technology savvy. With COVID, we have been forced to rely on technology more than ever and all of us have had to expand our knowledge in that area. I applaud Kent County Levy Court for taking this step and creating a process that is more user-friendly.”

MGO is an ongoing project and the next step will include the addition of the Code Enforcement module followed by adding software to assist the Planning Office with Planning and Zoning approvals. MGO can be accessed on the Kent County website or by logging onto the Kent County Levy Court page, hovering over “Kent Online” where a dropdown menu will appear. Then, click on “Permits” found at the bottom of the first column of selections.

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