by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
The City of Sanibel launched EnerGov, an online licensing, permitting and business tax receipt system, in August 2021, after four years of development. The Permitting Process Review Subcommittee of the Planning Commission got its first look Tuesday.
Project Manager Elaine Fannon and Finance Director Steve Chaipel gave a presentation to the subcommittee, demonstrating the EnerGov citizen self service (CSS) portal.
EnerGov is designed to streamline the application process for professional licenses, building or redevelopment permits and business tax receipts. It replaces the paper-based application process and builds an online database for more publicly accessible records of inspections, plans and permits.
“EnerGov doesn’t change the way we issue licenses, permits or business tax receipts,” said Finance Director Steve Chaipel. “Staff still interacts with and reviews each application. It is just an electronic method of applying instead of the paper one.”
A registered applicant or registered contractor can track the progression of a permit or planning application to completion in the CSS dashboard. Inspections can be scheduled and results viewed there, too. Professional licenses, such as for contractors or electricians, are now issued through EnerGov.
And permit or license fees and business tax receipts can be paid for by credit card, although checks and cash are still accepted at the finance department.
EnerGov is user friendly, but there have been issues since its launch. Chaipel said issues have been identified and addressed in this ever-evolving process. “We knew that,” he said. “We have taken feedback from staff and citizens to help improve the process.”
However, the biggest challenge has been education for staff and users. “We changed 180 degrees the way permits are processed, going from manual to digital,” said Chaipel. “It’s been a mind shift and will be a constant educational effort.”
EnerGov is a highly customizable platform and offers many services to municipalities. The city is in a first phase with the launch of a mobile app for users planned as part of the next phase. A list of required permits and necessary documentation will also be coming in the near future.
Instructional documentation is listed on the city’s website to assist with the EnerGov portal.