El Dorado resolves lunch-hour staffing woes at City Hall
EL DORADO — Beginning today, City Hall employees will once again be available to serve the public during the noon hour.
The El Dorado City Council resolved the matter last week after Mayor Veronica Smith-Creer asked council members how they would like to address it and after hearing from a City Hall staff member.
The issue revolved around a decision by the El Dorado City Council to eliminate compensatory time for most city employees, effective Jan. 1.
On Dec. 20, the council voted on a buyout of $192,560.66 for the remaining compensatory time that was owed to city employees.
When Smith-Creer stepped into the mayor’s office for her first full day of work Jan. 2, some City Hall employees told her they had used compensatory time for a rotation schedule to answer phones and assist residents who went to the municipal building to conduct business during the lunch hour.
“People come up here to buy trash bags or to buy permits and conduct business, and for some, that’s the only time they have during the day to take care of business,” council member Dianne Hammond said Thursday.
Council members Billy Blann and Vance Williamson asked how the compensatory time added up for City Hall employees during a 40-hour workweek.
Hammond said some employees would mitigate the time by leaving early on Fridays.
Smith-Creer said some City Hall workers were in the audience, and she called Debbie Stinson, administrative assistant in the Department of Public Works, to the lectern.
Stinson said staff members would rotate weeks during which one employee would work during the noon hour.
“Everyone had a week they were responsible for, and they would work the lunch hour five days a week. We take it an hour at a time, maybe leave early on Friday or if we have to go to the doctor or something like that,” she said.
“City Hall has only one product to sell, and that is service to the public. If we close the door five hours a week, then you’re cutting that service,” Blann said.
The council subsequently voted unanimously in favor of a suggestion by council member Mike Rice to stagger lunch breaks for City Hall employees.
Council member Willie McGhee said the arrangement would also provide an opportunity to cross-train city employees — a move for which he has long advocated.
Smith-Creer said a new schedule would be worked out and that staff members will be available to serve the public during the lunch hour this week.