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New Poulsbo city hall hours stir debate

October 8th, 2010 at Fri, 8th, 2010 at 6:38 am by Jennifer Morris

The question of how to standardize hours for various departments in the new city hall riled a lengthy discussion among members of the Poulsbo City Council Wednesday night.

They were asked to concur with a staff recommendation that city hall hours be unified, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Several council members argued against the idea of city hall closing before 5 p.m.

Councilman Ed Stern said the building should remain open, at least to a degree, as the purpose of locating city hall downtown was to support Front Street merchants, none of whom close before 5 p.m.

Even if most staff went home at 4:30 p.m., one or a few desk clerks could remain to greet public until 5 p.m., he contended.

Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson said department heads have debated city hall hours for several months, and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. was their best solution. She said keeping the building open until 5 p.m. could be difficult after a recent staff reduction, and because the new city hall is much bigger than the current one.

City departments currently operate out of a few different buildings, and those housed in the same building have separate entrances so they open at different times to accommodate various clientele.

The city clerk’s office currently opens from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in city hall, while the planning department is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the building and engineering departments are open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (though doors often open at 7 a.m. to accommodate contractors on their way to work).

Public works is open from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and the municipal court is open from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and from 1:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Each of those departments will be housed together in the new city hall.

One suggestion was to stagger staffing so that employees could be present during both early morning and late afternoon hours.

Having all departments open at the same time allows customers who need more than one service to do everything at once, instead of finding one office open and another closed.

No decision was reached; instead, Erickson said department heads will meet again to determine who specifically could remain in the building until 5 p.m.

How do you think the city should operate? Take the poll below.   JM

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