At the end of this week’s board meeting, County Commissioner Nick Nicholson ticked off several ideas he would like to see implemented to improve government efficiency.
Staff is looking into three of them: periodic evening board meetings, improved telephone services at the government center and an online permitting system.
Nicholson said all three ideas were suggested by constituents.
Evening meetings would accommodate people who work during the day and cannot attend regular gatherings, which begin at 9 a.m., he said.
If possible, Nicholson would like to hold those night meetings somewhere in Spring Hill, where the majority of the population lives.
He admits that could present a logistics problem, as far as recording equipment for later broadcast and the use of a facility.
Second, Nicholson said it would be nice if Hernando County could imitate the Southwest Florida Water Management District (Swiftmud) which recently enacted a policy where someone will pick up a phone call within so many seconds.
There are times, Nicholson said, where he cannot get through at all to government offices because of the on again-off again service.
“People complain they can’t get through,” he said. “I can’t get through myself. It’s a mess. Why, I don’t know.”
He recalls one time he had to drive into town to see County Administrator Len Sossamon because he couldn’t get through to his office.
Finally, Nicholson said he would like to move forward with an online permitting system for residential and commercial applicants. It would create a paperless system, save time and ultimately save money for county government, he said.
Nicholson noted that Swiftmud already has its own system operational. Called ePermitting, it is designed to provide faster permit information and allows applicants to complete and manage different types of environmental resource, water use and well construction permits – along with other applications – online.
Nicholson said the software required for such a system may be cost-prohibitive for Hernando County.
County Commissioner Jim Adkins said he doesn’t object to evening meetings but the board has to take into consideration overtime for hourly staff and court reporters.
Adkins said he has not experienced problems getting through to offices at the government center.
Regarding online permitting, Adkins said he expects that to come back to a workshop for further discussion.
“I kind of like that idea, just at first blush,” Adkins said.