Changes to city hall hours effective July 17

By John Dilmore

The Atlanta City Council on Monday approved changes to the “public transaction operating hours” at city hall beginning on Monday, July 17.
The new hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. City hall is currently open for business from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The plan is for signage to be put up related to the change and for the public to have a couple of months to become familiar with the new hours.
The changes were first proposed during the council’s last meeting on April 17, when City Manager David Cockrell voiced concerns about city hall staffers’ ability to leave work on time while transacting business until 5 p.m. “That’s kind of a difficult thing, because they’ve got to count out a drawer,” he said in April.
There has often been a bottleneck of business around the end of the day related to utility payments and other transactions, especially involving those whose services may be nearing the point of disconnect.
The last time city hall hours were changed, it involved the morning hours -- the time the office opens was changed from 8 a.m. to the current 8:30 a.m. That change too was brought about because of high customer traffic during a time when staff was hard-pressed to receive it. 
Staffers were reporting to work at 8 a.m. and encountering lines already forming.
That previous change worked out well from a customer service standpoint, Cockrell reported last month.
At the same time as the April discussion related to changing city hall hours, there was mention of considering increasing financial penalties for those whose utility services are disconnected. Repeat offenders in this category are among those contributing to the workflow bottleneck city hall staffers have encountered and also impact the hours put in by public works department personnel, according to city officials.
It was mentioned during the discussion portion of Monday’s meeting that this could be revisited during the city’s budgeting process, after the problem has been further analyzed.
On another note related to timing, Mayor Keith Crow on Monday suggested later in the meeting moving the start-time for city council meetings from the current 6 p.m. to an earlier time. 
After some discussion, it was suggested that 5:30 p.m. could be a feasible start-time for council members and city staff. 
It’s anticipated the council will be asked to consider a resolution to that effect during its next regularly scheduled meeting, which would include a starting date for the proposed change.
Also on Monday, the council approved a resolution suspending the effective date proposed by Centerpoint Energy to increase rates under the Gas Reliability Infrastructure Program for 45 days; and authorizing the city’s continued participation in the Alliance of Centerpoint Municipalities.

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