Skip to main content
King County logo

News

King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Executive congratulates DDES Director for winning Municipal League award as Public Employee of the Year

Summary

King County Executive Dow Constantine today congratulated his Director of the Department of Development and Environmental Services, John Starbard, for being named Public Employee of the Year by the Municipal League of King County.

Story

King County Executive Dow Constantine today congratulated his Director of the Department of Development and Environmental Services, John Starbard, for being named Public Employee of the Year by the Municipal League of King County.

“It wasn’t that long ago that our permitting department was the most maligned of our agencies, with good people struggling with old ways of doing business,” said Executive Constantine. “I gave John a mandate to reform the agency, and since then he has instituted reforms that have increased efficiency, reduced fees, and shortened the time to process permits.”

The award was presented Thursday night at the 53rd Annual Civic Awards Celebration Dinner at Herban Feast in the SODO area of Seattle.

Starbard fulfilled one Executive priority early in his tenure by moving to a fixed rate for each type of permit, instead of billing customers by the hours it took to process a permit – providing customers with predictable costs and, in most cases, reduced fees. A new pre-screening service helps customers ensure their application is complete before submission, which saves processing time.

Starbard enlisted staff to create a new over-the-counter service that now takes two hours instead of the two months it took previously.

Starbard also led reductions in the amount of time it takes to issue a permit for custom single-family homes – from 64 days last year down to about 38 days this year, and he says staff feels they can do even better than that.

“We have repeatedly asked the staff of DDES to move mountains in a short period of time,” said Starbard. “They have demonstrated to themselves—in numerous refinements that are often their own design—how our department can provide better and valued services to our customers.”

“This award really bears their names, and I thank them profoundly,” Starbard said.

Starbard said his department will soon deploy new software to enable online permit applications with a robust tracking function. The software will have the capacity for paperless permitting, with information able to shared instantly between departments, and between the field and DDES staff. Some customers will be able to complete the process without leaving their homes.

Starbard is also improving customer service by moving the main office of DDES to the city of Snoqualmie, to bring services closer to the center of the agency’s customer base. At the heart of the new office will be a Customer Assistance Center to provide all of the agency’s drop-in services at one counter. The move also saves about $1 million a year in rent.

Starbard was appointed DDES director in March of 2010. He previously served as city manager for Maple Valley, then Newcastle. He began his career with the City of Bellevue, rising from the planning department to the office of the city manager. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Puget Sound and a Masters Degree from the University of Washington.



King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography