CENTRAL — This city will have a new group in charge of providing services such as city permits and public works duties on Friday.
The Institute for Building Technology and Safety, a nonprofit organization with headquarters in Virginia, will begin providing city services except for fire and police.
For the past three years, those services had been provided through CH2M Hill. Before then, East Baton Rouge city-parish government administered city services between 2005, when Central incorporated, and 2008, when Central signed a contract with CH2M Hill.
IBTS and its staff of about 20 people will be centered at the new Municipal Services Center on Sullivan Road — a 4,500-square-foot facility, Shyam “Boudreaux” Choudhary said.
He is the chief financial officer and chief operations officer with IBTS, which has other branch offices, including in Louisiana.
Choudhary said he goes by “Boudreaux” because his name can be hard for people to remember, “and I want to be remembered,” he said, laughing.
He and other IBTS staff showed people around the new offices during a ribbon-cutting Thursday.
“Our main objective is to provide a very welcoming place for residents,” Choudhary said.
He said it will likely be another 90 days or so before online permitting will be available because it was deemed more important to get the transition done smoothly first.
Central Mayor Shelton “Mac” Watts said the city decided last year not to extend its three-year contract with CH2M Hill and formed a panel to review the contract.
Watts said that over the years, the city learned there were certain services it needed that were not included in the old contract. Some included online permitting and having a local engineer available. Both are included in the new pact.
The city issued a request for bids, and a nine-member selection committee recommended IBTS, which now has a five-year contract.
Several meetings have been held to ensure a smooth transition from CH2M to IBTS. The two firms have been working hard to ensure services are not interrupted, Watts said.
Although IBTS officially starts Friday, Watts said he is asking residents to wait — if they can — until after the July Fourth holiday before they start accessing services. This will give IBTS time to settle in. Also, permit fees will be lower with IBTS, so it would be beneficial to wait until after the holiday to submit a permit.
IBTS will have several other companies handling different types of work for the city:
e_SBlt Professional Engineering Consultants of Baton Rouge will provide engineering, storm water and public works support.
e_SBlt GCR and Associates of New Orleans will provide planning support.
• Verma Systems of Baton Rouge will provide information technology and network support.
Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph is a member of the IBTS board and represents the National Association of Counties .
The other four members of the IBTS board represent the National League of Cities, International City/County Management Association, National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of State Governments.