Phoenix building slump means cuts at City Hall

[Source: Casey Newton, Arizona Republic] — The Phoenix city department that oversees new construction is facing a third round of layoffs amid a slowdown in commercial construction.  The Development Services Department will eliminate 39 positions over the next six weeks, including 24 that are currently filled.  The department has cut more than 10% of its workforce in the past year in response to slowing residential development.  City officials said the number of positions in the department, which is funded entirely through permit and inspection fees, could not be justified, given the decreasing workload.  “We have to provide a balance,” said Mark Leonard, DSD director.  “We want to provide the service, but we don’t want to overstaff.”

Still, the cutbacks will mean longer turnaround times for the developers who do submit new plans.  Review processes that are supposed to take 30 days are now being finished in one-third that time, Leonard said.  Turnaround times are expected to increase.  The cuts could portend further budget cuts for Phoenix.  The decline in sales-tax revenue, which led the city this year to make its biggest budget cuts in history, has not begun to reverse itself.

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