BAXTER -- Baxter's growth is catching up with its city employees.
Despite attempts in 2000 and 2001 to ease the workloads of city staffers, the Baxter City Council again has to address the time management of city employees.
The topic came up at the Baxter City Council retreat Saturday at Camp Vanasek. In December 2000, at the council's first retreat, council members directed Baxter department heads to prioritize the needs of the city in order to ease the workload.
"The job activity doesn't go down, and that's the dilemma," said Baxter City Planner Todd Holman, pointing to the need to match the number of personnel with the city's growth.
Despite cutting overtime hours, reducing the number of large projects to only what staff felt they could handle and keeping compensatory time off to only 40 hours pay period, department heads are still feeling pressed for time.
Reducing staff time has not reduced staff work, said Public Works Director Trevor Walter, noting that taking compensation time means coming back to a backlog of work on his desk.
The amount of work has also meant that, at times, department heads have been unable to be reached by phone, and that troubled council member Darrel Olson.
"What's bothering me is when people call three times and can't get a hold of anyone," said Olson, adding that as a public servant himself with Crow Wing County he feels it's not an option not to answer his phone.
"It is not with intent that call don't get relayed back (to the people)," replied Holman.
Holman said if the city council directs him to do so, he would make answering his phone calls and other correspondence his main priority.
Part of the problem, Holman said, was that much of his time is spent answering general questions. Council member Mark Cross said a frequently asked questions list could be created and kept at the reception desk at Baxter City Hall. Cross also suggested that in time each department should have its own phone line and its own receptionist.
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