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Catch Up? - Closure Eyed For City Offices

POSTED February 16, 2011 1:03 a.m.

With the goal of allowing backlogged city workers to catch up on paperwork, schedule meetings, and attend training sessions, Oakdale city leaders are contemplating the idea of closing City Hall and the Development Services Building one day per week – Fridays – to meet the workload demands.

The proposal comes from a suggestion by City Councilman Michael Brennan at the Monday, Feb. 7 city council meeting. During the discussion, Brennan indicated that city staff has been cut due to layoffs, but the responsibilities and workload of running the city had not diminished and actually increased for the individuals remaining due to the vacancies. He suggested that members consider having city hall closed one day a week or one day every other week to allow workers to catch up.

The discussion item was well received by the other council members and city staff, who felt that meetings and training sessions could also be arranged on the closed days.

City workers would still be present at the offices but just would not be dealing with public business matters. Public safety and other essential services would not be affected by the change.

City Manager Steve Hallam praised the idea, stating the one-day-a-week closure would provide relief to catch up on the workload for frontline staff.

“The original proposal was between one day a week and one day every other week,” Hallam said. “One day a week would work best and allow staff to get caught up and stay current.”

Mayor Pat Paul stated that city workers were “stretched to the max” and felt the closure would give them “a few hours reprieve” to get caught up.

Paul felt that the closure would lead to better customer service from the city workers because they could focus on their service to the public and not worry about a work backlog.

Hallam said he is in the process of gathering details on the implementation of the plan and will make a report to the council at the March 7 meeting.

“Managers are meeting with their staffs to share ideas to facilitate the conduct of public business for minimal impact to Oakdale residents,” Hallam said. “My report will provide more disclosure to the citizens.”

Hallam pointed out that business by appointments with certain managers and building inspection officials would still be conducted on the closed days.

The police department already has its doors closed to the public on Wednesdays for normal business matters such as report requests, citation sign-offs, and vehicle releases.

The city plans on implementing the change of hours in April and re-examining its effectiveness at the end of the fiscal year in June.

“We’ll give it a try and see how it works,” said Paul.

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