City wants residents to sound off if service is a problem

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 19

Got a complaint for Carty? A concern for council? A question for city hall?

You’ll get your chance to speak your mind April 27 when the city’s top leaders will be answering the phones at Government Center.

It’s called Call City Hall Day, and it’s part of Mayor Carty Finkbeiner’s new emphasis on service.

“It’s basically our way of expanding the contact the community has with city government,” said Rick Thielen, the city’s manager of community services.

In his State of the City address in January, Mr. Finkbeiner said one of his goals for 1999 was to increase the level of service city employees give to citizens.

Anyone calling 936-2020 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Call City Hall Day will get their service from folks who usually don’t have to answer their own phones.

Mr. Finkbeiner, police Chief Mike Navarre, fire Chief Mike Bell, and other top administrators are all scheduled to operate the phone line for part of that time, along with several council members.

Actually, citizens don’t have to wait for April 27 to call city hall. The 936-2020 number is actually the mayor’s Action Line and is staffed during business hours. It is attached to an answering machine at night and on weekends.

In a normal month, the phone line might get 900 calls; Mr. Thielen said it’ll likely get 200 or more on April 27 alone.

He said the city’s goal is for citizens to begin using the 936-2020 number in place of calling individual departments of city government. If all the calls are focused on one line, it becomes easier for officials to respond to concerns in an orderly fashion, and citizens don’t have to maneuver their way through the mazes of city bureaucracy, he said.

Mr. Thielen said increasing the visibility of the 936-2020 number could reduce the number of nonemergency calls that clog up the city’s 911 system. If the city hall phone number is successful, Toledo could adopt a 311 nonemergency number, as other cities have done.