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Public Sector

Building Services for Troy, MI


Aligning Operations with Demand


Saved in City Inspection Budget

Service Lines

Building Official


Plan Review

One of the most significant outcomes of a well-executed privatization program is cost savings. Financial reserves are often realized through economies of scale, access to cutting-edge technology, innovations, or simply a different way of completing the work. Reduced labor costs can help a jurisdiction better manage its financial burdens.

Troy, Michigan is the largest city in Oakland County, with a population of 80,980 in 2010. Troy’s building services department was operating at a substantial deficit; the City’s comprehensive annual financial report claimed a cumulative shortfall of $6.6 million, caused by years of increases in employee costs, pensions, and related operational costs. Troy had grown significantly, and that expansion had required additional full-time staff, all union positions. As the economy and construction activity slowed, staffing could not be adjusted in the same timely manner, so the City was now overstaffed. This created an environment to evaluate all departments and make recommendations on scalability. City officials recognized many areas where improvements could be made, and they hired a consulting service that specializes in the areas of municipal organization, management and process studies to evaluate all departments and make recommendations. The consulting company suggested several options for the building services department, but none were embraced by staff or the union.

City officials then decided to privatize the building inspections department. The private firm, SAFEbuilt, was brought in to manage the daily operations of the building department, perform inspections, conduct plan reviews, staff the front counter, archive City records, and work with City officials on departmental budget. The firm also worked with the economic development department to encourage growth and promote business opportunities within the community. In return, SAFEbuilt received a percentage of the City’s permit fees. This fee structure meant that Troy never has to worry about building department costs exceeding revenue, even with fluctuations in building activity. In other words, the firm turned the City’s fixed costs into variable costs based on activity levels.


SAFEbuilt Solution

Excellent service and cost efficiency go hand-in-hand. By looking for ways to improve the department’s processes and create efficiencies, SAFEbuilt helped bolster the department’s financial performance. For example, reconfiguring the department’s office space within City Hall improved its workflow, utilizing half the square footage to accomplish the same amount of work. Thousands of paper records were scanned for more efficient archiving and retrieving. Inspectors were equipped with laptops and mobile devices, so they could access and enter information in the field. Many of these changes were based on SAFEbuilt’s initial recommendations.

One of the main recommendations for making the department work more resourcefully was around staffing changes. At its peak, there were 21 full-time staff members in the building department. The firm interviewed and retained several building inspectors who were originally with department, creating a team of 9 full-time staff and 4 “floaters”. Other remaining employees either retired or were redeployed to other City departments. In addition, Troy has improved interdepartmental and intergovernmental relations through better communication. As a result, permit technicians disburse permits for water and sewer, planning, and for other City departments, refining the flow of information among City workers, as well as saving time and money. SAFEbuilt began fully operating the building department, building upon these improvements, streamlining work processes to reduce processing times.

Client Benefits

The changes saved the City of Troy’s building inspections budget $1 million the first year of the contract. City officials understood the building services department had traditionally provided services ineffectively. By privatizing services and allowing for greater efficiencies, the City addressed the reduction in tax and state revenues, and it enabled more proficient and customer-friendly operations.


SAFEbuilt provided services to the City of Troy from 2010 – 2022.

Additional Case Studies

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Reducing backlog of compliance cases

Operation and Management of City-wide Facilities

Reducing Costs, Increasing Efficiencies in Facilities Management

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