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York, PA converts to digital permitting and payments with low-cost, no-code solution

York, PA, USA

Government Champion

Building and Zoning

Cost

Initial:
2 Thousand USD
Maintenance:
2 Thousand USD

Project Status

Operational since 2021

Project Type

At a Glance

York PA was ready to transition to digital permitting: online applications and reviews, automatic status updates. They wanted to reduce staff data entry and speed up permitting post-COVID. They made a decision based on speed to implement, cost, and ability to control their own technology.

Problem Addressed

The City of York, PA was in the same situation that many small and mid-sized cities encounter: their data management system for building permits was obsolete, and had never been able to accommodate online applications, payments, or digital workflow. Staff was spending too much time doing data entry, and it was hard to keep track of permit status.

When they looked at the "usual suspects" for building permitting software, they realized they couldn't justify either the time it would take to implement them or the expense. And even though they have a relatively small staff, they wanted a software system that they could control themselves. They'd already been in the situation where only technical people and consultants could make system changes, and they knew they wanted something more flexible and user-friendly.

York, PA used/is using CityGrows low-cost, no-code permitting software to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

The City of York opted to work with CityGrows which provides an online permitting software that is low-cost, fast to set up, and easy for non-technical staff to manage complex permitting workflows. In a few weeks, York’s team was able to get 15 priority permitting processes online for residents and small business owners - including zoning, pool safety checks, temporary food service permits.

"Having CityGrows means we can continue to respond to new requirements quickly, all while having our team safely work from home," said Philip Given, Acting Director of Economic and Community Development. "Our permit applicants really appreciate being able to submit and track their permit progress online, and our team is working efficiently together whether they're in the office or at home. We're excited to see CityGrows continue to improve its software. I'd recommend it to any government looking for an affordable digital permitting solution."

Outcomes

  1. All of the City's permitting workflows are online now, allowing the City to issue new permits in an average of less than 7 days/ permit. This represents a time saving of more than 75%.
  2. City has put more than 15 permits online so far across several departments and continues to add more permit types and functions.
  3. Staff does less data entry! Time is freed up for higher-value customer support tasks.
  4. Applicants have 24/7 access to their permit status, reducing calls and emails to the permit team so they can work on approvals.
  5. City staff can work from home or in the office and still keep the permitting process moving.

Lessons Learned

  1. Giving up a few of the "bells and whistles" and integrations that are standard on traditional permitting systems (and results in long implementation timelines) is definitely worth it.
  2. Online payments that are integrated with permit and license applications mean better compliance and easier reconciliation for Finance staff.

Something Unique

When governments switch to CityGrows they see increased compliance, increase revenue, and spend less time on each permit. That means economic activity can get back to normal faster.

Who Should Consider?

Any sized community that wants a digital permitting solution that is cost-effective (often just a few hundred dollars/month for all users and all workflows, not per user!).