Belle City Council votes to change city office hours

By Edward Gehlert, Staff Writer
Posted 12/23/21

BELLE  — Belle aldermen voted Dec. 20 to change the operating hours of Belle City Hall to 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. so employees can focus on office duties.

Belle City Hall currently has three …

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Belle City Council votes to change city office hours

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BELLE  — Belle aldermen voted Dec. 20 to change the operating hours of Belle City Hall to 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. so employees can focus on office duties.

Belle City Hall currently has three full-time employees, including the city clerk, court clerk and treasurer. Closing to the public two hours a day results in 30 hours of accumulative time that is paid for with tax payer dollars, but without public access to employees.

Belle aldermen Sundi Jo Graham made two proposals during the meeting concerning office hours. The first was selecting one day a week where the city office would close to the public at noon to provide office staff more time to concentrate on their duties.

“It’s crazy because you have people coming in all day long. So this gives them an opportunity to focus and get what they need done,” said Graham.

The second proposal was to change the daily office hours to 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. 

“I’d love to hear everybody’s thought on this, like the employees included, maybe opening to the public from nine to three,” said Graham. “That way the employees have an hour in the morning to gather themselves, they have an hour in the afternoons to gather themselves. I think it’ll help people maybe organize a little more, be able to focus on their jobs a little more… have some clarity.”

Struemph told the board it would give employees time to do things such as count the cash drawer without interruption.

“That still leaves six hours a day for the public to come in,” said Struemph.

“If you wanted to do it five days a week where you’re only open nine to three would there be anything wrong with that?” asked Alderman Fred Bethmann.

Mayor Josh Seaver asked, “Instead of closing at noon one day?”

Graham said, “I was proposing both. So do nine to three, Monday through Friday, and then one day of the week, Wednesday or whatever I mean you guys figure that out because I mean you know best, but close at noon to the public.”

“That would help on long-term projects that you really need to concentrate on,” said Struemph. “That’s where that would come in handy.”

Tony Baretich, Public Works Director, told board members that one week of the month is when they do disconnections from the city’s water supply.

“By ordinance, disconnect day falls on the 30th or on the following business day,” said Baretich. “Typically disconnect day happens first, second, or third of the month.”

Baretich said that if they disconnect on a Tuesday and then city hall is closed half of the day Wednesday, people couldn’t come in and pay cash to be reconnected on that day.

“Now, I’m in full agreement that everyone should be a grown-up and that water bills are due on the 15th,” said Baretich.

“I think that’s something people are just going to have to get used to,” said Graham. “Just like if you try to come in after four o’clock you can’t pay your water bill either. It’s going to have to be the next day.”

“Would it work to just do the 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., five days a week?” asked Bethmann.

Graham said that it would work and they can revisit it again.

“How about we try this. How about we try 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with actual working hours still  being 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; lets try it for three months and revisit it in March,” said Seaver. “If it looks like that’s going to work maybe we can try adding the half-day.”

The council voted unanimously to change the office hours and to revisit the topic in March, with the change taking effect in January.

Aldermen passed the following business, each with a 3-0 vote:

*City Aldermen voted to continue using Legends Bank for the city account.

*City aldermen voted to vacate a street easement on 11th Street. Jim Lange and Jessica Williams petitioned the city to vacate and agreed to split the maintenance of the property.

*City aldermen approved a motion to put the question on the upcoming ballot to change the marshal position from an elected official to an appointed chief of police.

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