Officials for the City of Oakdale have revised the original recommendation to have city offices closed one day per week — Fridays — in favor of having city offices open up two hours later at 10 a.m., four days a week, Tuesday through Friday.
With the change, city business hours will also extend one hour, until 6 p.m., on the second Wednesday of the month. The purpose of the one-hour extension is to satisfy the surge in demand for service by walk-in customers that day due to water shut-offs.
Effective April 17, 2011, the new city hours will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday with extended hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month.
The purpose of the closure stems from a proposal by councilman Michael Brennan last month when he suggested a one-day closure for the purpose of city workers having uninterrupted time to be able to catch up on backlog or use the time for training sessions.
With the city staff reduced over the years through lay-offs and positions going unfilled through attrition, existing staff has seen workloads increase and the same public demand for service continue. The two-hour delay at the beginning of workers’ days allows them to get current with previous day’s work.
The restricted closure of city offices is not unique for providing the same level of customer service with a limited work force. 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.
City Manager Steve Hallam relayed to the city council that the one day a week closure of City Hall was not recommended after determining that a full day’s closure had a greater impact on the public rather than the smaller limited hours closure.
The finance department staff suggested to Hallam that the hours for the utility payment counter be extended until 6 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month when utility customers are facing shut-off for non-payments. That day is the busiest from walk-in customers who come to City Hall to pay delinquent bills and get their water service turned back on after the shut-off. With the extension, late arriving customers would not have to wait an extra day.
Councilmember Katherine Morgan successfully lobbied for city hall to still have one day of early operation each week for commuters or workers who may not be available to wait until 10 a.m. to go to City Hall. Mondays were chosen since it was the beginning of the week in hopes that city workers had left for their weekend all caught up on their assignments.
The change in hours will run through the end of the calendar year when it will be re-evaluated.