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W’bago extends city hall hours

By Staff | Apr 17, 2011

Austin Bleess

Winnebago residents are now able to pay any city bill –utility, purchase pool passes, dog licenses, building permits or anything else– by using a credit card or going online.

It’s all an effort to better serve the public and provide convenience.

Now, City Administrator Austin Bleess has gone a step further.

On Tuesday night, he asked the City Council to implement what he calls “Summer Hours.”

Under Bleess’ proposal, City Hall will be open from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday beginning Memorial Day until Sept. 2.

Because that would mean working 10-hour days and create overtime issues, Bleess and Deputy City Clerk Megan Boeck would need to rotate four-day work weeks.

The idea drew strong opposition from Mayor Randy Nowak.

“I feel the city administrator should be in the office five days a week. He was hired at those hours and knew what he was getting into,” Nowak says. “I just think the boss should be here.”

Councilman Chris Ziegler agreed with Nowak.

“I’m not crazy about the idea. It’s a little bit of a con-cern for me, no supervision in the city,” he says.

Nowak says the extended hours would add costs, such as electrical, heating and cooling.

But, Councilman Rick Johnson says any additional expenses would be minimal.

Another concern was whether two employees should be given three-day weekends.

“It’s not about getting a three-day weekend. It’s seeing how we can improve making things better for the customer,” Bleess says.

Council members Stacy Huntington-Scofield and Scott Robertson favor the extended business hours because it is customer-friendly.

Another change calls for building official Darold Nienhaus to be available to issue permits from 4 to 5:30 p.m., rather than from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Bleess says a count of people taking advantage of the new hours would be kept to see whether it’s worthwhile.

The council gave its approval and will review at a later date how it is going to see if changes need to be made.

In other business;

• Brennan Johnson was hired as public works assistant and will be paid a starting wage of $15.40 an hour. The position will be divided among three departments — 60 percent wastewater, 20 percent water and 20 percent streets.

• Council members hired Heidi Kittleson to fill the library director’s position.

After reviewing six different options, the council approved 47 hours per pay period and not rehiring a part-time assistant.

Kittleson would also accrue three hours of vacation and the three hours of sick leave a month.

The city is expected to save $8,774 a year under this option.

• Dulas Excavating Inc. of Wells submitted a low bid of $8,550 for demolition of a house on First Street Southwest. Removal of two trees will cost extra. Work is to be completed by June 16.