Improving and streamlining the permitting process is the ultimate goal.
“We’re not saving any money,” said Steve Driscoll, Sparks assistant city manager. “This project was always about making it better for the customer.”
In order to reach that final objective, representatives from the three jurisdictions, meeting as members of the Shared Services Elected Officials Subcommittee, worked to identify commonalities and differences among each system.
As it currently stands, the location of a business — its actual brick-and-mortar address — determines which jurisdiction is in charge, what inspections are required and what fees are to be charged. So if a business owner opens shop in Sparks but wants to sell products or services to clients in Reno or unincorporated parts of Washoe County, he or she must have an additional license from those jurisdictions to do so.
In the long-term, officials are hoping that business owners can apply with any jurisdiction, regardless of where their physical property is located, for a single license that allows them to do business in Sparks, Reno and Washoe County. But that will require municipal code, planning and zoning ordinance changes. And these things vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
For example, the license processing fee in Sparks is $105, whereas Reno charges $125 and Washoe County just $75.
Fees also vary depending on the types of inspections a business needs to get up and running. These include a planning department, fire inspection, environmental control and health department inspection fees.
Officials already have created a single paper application used by all three jurisdictions and by December they hope that each jurisdiction will be able to process an application and fee for the others, though Driscoll said they currently are working through the legality of this process.
The subcommittee is expected to meet with members of the Chamber of Commerce and the contractors’ community in October to discuss upcoming changes, solicit feedback and possibly make adjustments.
Sparks officials, while satisfied with the partnership to share business licensing services, said residents shouldn’t expect the city to indulge in other consolidation efforts that Reno and Washoe County are contemplating, such as sharing law enforcement services.
“We’re not going to consolidate governance just to change governance,” Driscoll said.