It doesn't quite measure up to the New York Yankees media guide as a statistical compendium, but the background book the Department of Land Use prepared to back up its fiscal 2005 budget request before County Council comes close.

And, as any baseball fan will tell you, that kind of data isn't just numbers -- it's the stuff from which legends are made.

As general manager Charles Baker presented a page-by-page review of the highlights at a budget hearing on May 3, Council members were anything but bored by his testimony. When he finished, they were lavish in their praise for his having set the all-time record for the most comprehensive report on departmental activity delivered in 15 minutes.

It was something like the bureaucratic equivalent of hitting .325, with 50 home runs, 100 r.b.i. and 100 stolen bases.

By the numbers, here is what he said the department did in 2003:




Meeting with civic, business and government groups attended


Walk-in 'customers' served at the Government Center


Telephone calls from 'customers' handled


Existing or prospective businesses given information to expand or establish a business


Violations of county property codes handled (up from 173 in 2002)


'Show cause' hearings related to alleged violations held (compared to 89 in 2002)


Pieces of legislation researched and drafted (of which 21 were changes to the basic Unified Development Code (6 approved by Council, 1 rejected, 4 pending and 10 still in draft form))


Properties for which substantial damage was calculated so owners could qualify for assistance after the September storms and floods


Elevator inspections conducted (of which 69 involved new lifts)


Tax assessments conducted (which added $348 million of assessed value to the tax rolls, bringing the total to $21.8 billion)


Applications for senior citizen tax exemptions processed


School tax credits for seniors received from the state and processed


Properties restored to the tax rolls by discontinuance of exemptions


New tax parcels created through development subdivisions


Community meetings attended to assist with local planning and development matters


Development plans received and reviewed (plus 4 redevelopment plans)


Rezoning applications received and reviewed


Demolition permit applications received and reviewed for historic-preservtion implications


Average number of days it took for a major development plan to go though the approval process (versus 710 days a year earlier)


Sediment and stormwater plans approved (121 were denied)


Permits for construction of single-family dwellings issued (including 239 townhouses)


Permits for multi-family dwellings issued (providing for 528 living units)


Permits for commercial structures issued (involving 1,751,608 square feet of commercial space)


Permits for swimming pools issued


Sign permits issued


Certificates of occupancy issued


Inspections performed as a result of complaints about alleged property code violations (up from 51,054 in 2002)


Building inspections performed (up from 47,232 in 2002)


Communities for which maintenance corporation fees are collected (from 5,089 homes)


Staff positions in the department (9 currently vacant; no change planned for fiscal 2005)


Fiscal 2005 budget request (up from $13,906,740 this year, with $952,930 of the increase attributed to salaries and employee benefits)


Estimated county revenue the department will account for in fiscal 2004.

Not one to allow his team to rest on its laurels, Baker offered an eight-page list of goals for the coming year. A significant one is to use aerial photography to "look for buildings that may be out there but [which] we haven't assessed," he said. A major emphasis, he added, will be placed on helping communities eligible for 'hometown' status produce the requisite plans.

And there is the matter of dealing with the expanded County Council. Baker said the hope is that roughly the current amount of liaison is split between incumbents and new Council members who will represent half of each existing district. "If the volume of Council [members'] phone calls doubles, we'll be hurting," he quipped.

Posted on May 6, 2004

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