GRANDVIEW - Beginning in June, the Grandview City Council plans to change its regular meeting days from the first and third Monday of each month to the second and fourth Tuesday.
Council members last night, Monday, gave a thumbs up to the idea and will make it official by taking action on a formal ordinance to that effect at the next meeting on Monday, May 3.
City Clerk Anita Palacios and Interim City Administrator Cus Arteaga presented the idea of moving the date to council last night as part of a cost-saving initiative.
Palacios explained that the current utility billing clerk, Stephanie Overton, is retiring and the receptionist, Mary Padilla, will move over into that position.
Instead of hiring a replacement for Padilla, Palacios said city hall staff agreed to attempt a four-month trial process in which three employees, Overton, Padilla and the accounts payable person, will take turns in manning city hall's front desk and answering telephones.
"Everyone is willing to help each other," she said.
The trial period will start in June and a seasonal employee will be hired for the summer to fill gaps created by employee vacations.
If successful through the trial period and beyond, the move to not replace the receptionist will save the city three-fourths of the cost for a full-time position with benefits.
Palacios said staff went through a process to determine each person's busiest times to make sure reception work did not interfere with crunch times.
As a result, it was determined that all of the positions have their busiest times during the same part of the month, the first and third weeks.
Palacios said moving the council dates to the second and fourth weeks will help stagger the busy times to make sure the front counter and telephones are handled.
The initial idea was to move to the second and fourth Mondays of the month.
Council opted to go with the second and fourth Tuesdays, though, because some Monday night meetings are already moved to Tuesday due to holiday schedules.
"I think it's a noble effort, it's doing what the people are asking of them," Mayor Norm Childress said of the cost-saving move.
While the effort to do without a full time receptionist is on a four-month trial - "If it doesn't work we'll go to a plan B," said Childress - the change in meeting dates is permanent.
The meeting date change requires council's formal action during the next meeting.
Meanwhile, Palacios said city hall staff is coming up with additional ideas to maintain customer service levels with the loss of a full time employee.
Besides installing a credit card terminal for faster payment processing, staff at city hall have also created an express lane for citizens who have their utility statement with them so they don't have to wait for those who do not have the forms.