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Springfield Building Development Services director exits

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Harlan Hill, the city’s Building Development Services director for two years, has exited his post.

City spokeswoman Cora Scott said Hill resigned, effective last week.

“He said he would be accepting an opportunity to transition into private practice as an architect,” Scott said via email.

Attempts to reach Hill were unsuccessful by deadline.

Scott said Deputy City Manager Maurice Jones has taken on the BDS director role in an interim capacity as the city conducts a search for Hill’s permanent successor.

The former six-year college architect for Ozarks Technical Community College, Hill started as the city’s BDS director in January 2018. He took over for the retiring Chris Straw, who had led the department since 2010, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.

The BDS Department duties include issuing permits for construction; implementing building codes and zoning; monitoring the demolition and movement of existing buildings; and overseeing dangerous buildings that are not owned by the city. With an annual budget of $2 million, the department employs more than 30 people, according to the city’s website.

Hill recently told SBJ that BDS ran into issues in 2018 implementing eCity, a cloud-based software platform for permit application and review process. Challenges in the initial three months delayed projects and permits, and he said only about 20% of contractors currently are utilizing eCity.

“We had to spend a lot of staff time manually fixing that and getting data corrected,” Hill said in a Feb. 17 article, noting there were more than 300 cases to review when eCity rolled out.

Hill is the second senior staffer at the city to exit abruptly since December, when Director of Workforce Development Mary Ann Rojas announced plans to retire to spend more time with family.

Days after the announcement, Springfield released audit results that found the city misused a federal grant by releasing funding for participants that were ineligible for a tuition program in partnership with Ozarks Technical Community College. Employees at the city’s Workforce Development and Finance departments had voiced concerns about the enrollment process, according to past SBJ reporting.

The city this week announced the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment & Training Administration excused the misuse of grant funding and is not requiring the city to pay back $245,512 that went toward the ineligible participants.

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