Another modification to office hours at Garland Town Hall is expected to be mulled at the town meeting next week, after the matter was tabled in December.
The board had discussed closing early on Wednesday during a work session prior to the December meeting, but commissioners shared a change in heart at the meeting itself, prompting further talks to be held at the coming session.
Mayor Winifred Murphy said the board agreed to change the hours from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. for the week, with the exception of Wednesday, when offices would close at 1 p.m. for the day. The matter was included in the consent agenda, but was subsequently tabled, following a vote by Commissioner Ralph Smith and a second by Commissioner Mike Toler.
“I’ve had second thoughts about it and I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Smith said then.
“OK, we’re backtracking on changing the office hours, and we’re tabling it until the next meeting,” added Murphy. “I would just like to add the reason why we were going back to that, as I said in the work session, is because both of our staff members are new. There’s a lot on their plate.”
The town hall has been open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday the last few months. The town board adopted abbreviated operation hours earlier this year while staff was in transition, and reverted back to those original hours in October.
At the beginning of March 2012, the town hall changed its hours to 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday. In October, after seven months, during which the town underwent a change in both its clerk and deputy clerk positions, commissioners voted for the town hall to go back to its regular hours.
Murphy said another modification would further assist town operations. She urged that the 1 p.m. Wednesday closure be considered further before the board unanimously voted to table the matter.
“We just can’t stay with the status quo,” Murphy said. “There’s got to be some creativity. We have got to move forward and they are responsible for a lot of different things.”
In Smith’s motion, subsequently approved, he noted that the matter should be taken up at the January meeting. While Wednesday’s work session was canceled, the regular board meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8.
Murphy has urged Garland commissioners to identify nuisance properties so a comprehensive list can be gathered and those residents and property owners warned to clean up properties or be subject to further action.
The issue has been discussed over the course of the last year, however changes in staff and other budgetary and town issues have pushed it to the backburner. At the board’s recent meeting, she again implored board members to bring a list of properties so that letters can be sent out.
“We need to get that done,” said Murphy. She has asked commissioners to get names, addresses, parcel numbers and other relevant information.
The town recently appointed deputy clerk Jennifer Richardson to conduct code enforcement for the town toward that effort. The letters would complement Richardson’s efforts, which are still in the works as she was just approved by the board in December to undergo the code enforcement training.
The Garland board has considered developing ordinances concerning several areas, such as nuisance properties, dogs and a roll-out trash carts and a time limit on when they must be taken in. The board has tabled discussion in recent months, as some other issues have taken precedence, however Murphy has often reiterated that each topic is of importance.
She has regularly urged board members to think further on the issues, especially nuisance properties, while expressing the need for a cordial initial correspondence to residents and landowners, with the thought that written warnings could precede any fines assessed.
“We’re going to have to make sure we’re going around to everyone and that we’re consistent,” Murphy said.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.