Joint city-county planning agency to open in January

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A joint city-county planning agency, intended to consolidate services and reduce costs, is slated to open Jan. 10.

Despite serious concerns about whether the Walla Walla Joint Community Development Agency would be able to open in time -- or ever -- city and county officials vowed their commitments to move forward with funding for the agency at the end of December.

In its first year of operation, the combined agency is expected to save the city $252,756 over current operating expenses and the county $72,103, according to the projected budget.

Savings could increase in the second year as the inherited workload is reduced, particularly in code compliance cases.

The new agency will be led by Tom Glover, who had been the county's former Community Development Department director before taking the new job. Glober had also been serving as the new agency's interim director.

Combining the city's and county's codes, systems and expectations is a new frontier with numerous details to be worked out.

The agency's new staff will start work Jan. 3, but Glover said work that first week will likely be focused on setting up and getting the computer systems running in the agency's offices at the Development Services Center on Moore Street.

Although new permit processing won't be able to start until Jan. 10, the agency will be able to provide building inspections to avoid interruption of service in that area.

The city's share of the operation is roughly 63 percent of the yearly costs, about $854,000 for 2011; the county will pay the remaining 37 percent, which will be roughly $505,000 for the first year.

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