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County building open on Fridays

The Kitsap County Administration Building reopened on Fridays beginning last week, with the auditor’s office expanding its service to regular business hours 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“Since closing the administration building on Fridays back in 2009 due to budget reductions, we’ve invested heavily countywide in process improvements, efficiencies, and energy retrofits that have reduced our expenses,” said Commissioner Josh Brown, chair of the board of commissioners. “At the same time, we’ve increased our services available online. Now, we’re able to continue restoring hours in those offices the public wants direct access to, without increasing general fund expenditures.”

As the economy has recovered, the auditor’s office has received increasing requests to open on Fridays.

“We in the auditor’s office are committed to providing the highest level of service delivery to our customers,” said Kitsap County Auditor Walter E. Washington. “Opening on Fridays provides more options for our customers during the standard business week.”

Besides running elections for the county, the auditor’s office offers vehicle, boat, marriage and pet licensing, real estate recording services and business licensing.

Last spring, in response to increased requests from local builders for access to services on Fridays, the department of community development opened its offices from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. offering limited services including building permit submittals and issuances, general inquiries and inspection appointments.

Director Larry Keeton said it will retain the same schedule through the end of the year and look at increased hours in 2014.

Though the county treasurer’s office will remain closed on Fridays, treasurer Meredith Green said to coincide with the auditor’s office re-opening on Fridays, her office will bring a new electronic Real Estate Excise Tax program (known as e-REET) online for the public.

The program allows title companies to submit excise transactions electronically. Though closed to the public Fridays, the treasurer’s office has continued to process bank and investment transactions.

The assessor’s office will also remain closed on Fridays. After cutting back staff hours in 2009, Assessor Jim Avery said he hasn’t had the demand from the public to return in-house, drop-in service on Fridays and customer visits have fallen off hugely since assessment and property data and filing was put online. Since the closure, his office has put in place more effective and efficient business practices to make up for the cuts in staff time.

Other departments housed in the administration building include the commissioners’ office and administrative services. The public works building, located across Cline Avenue from the administration building, houses personnel, human services and public works administration.

Commissioners are talking with other department directors in both buildings about phasing in expanded hours by mid-January. The county courthouse has remained open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday during the administration building closure.

 

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