Niagara Gazette

November 18, 2012

City department closing doors two days a week

By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette —

The city's Community Development department has cut back the number of days its offices will be open to the public.

The department's Carnegie Building offices on Main Street are now only open to the public Tuesday through Thursday, an adjustment that started last week.

Seth Piccirillo, the director of the department, said that when people come in without a scheduled appointment it can be disruptive to the workflow of community development employees and can cause them to work at a slower pace.

"We're trying to create a workplace that can be more efficient with less resources," he said.

Community Development has been working to reduce staff and administrative costs. In that effort they eliminated the reception position in the office, meaning that employees who are working to produce more funding for the city have to stop what they are doing and greet people as they come in, Piccirillo said.

"We want uninterrupted productivity," he said.

Community Development employees will still be reachable by email or phone on Mondays and Fridays.

"We'll all still be working," Piccirillo said.

The department has been reducing its administrative cost burden on the city in recent years through spending reductions and outside funding sources and hopes to be completely eliminate reliance on the city's general fund in coming years, according to the 2013 Community Development budget.

"Our department is cutting costs and positions to create a sustainable annual budget," Piccirillo said. "Our 2013 budget includes over $200,000 in administrative savings (over last year) thanks to the staff's hard work."

City Council Chairman Sam Fruscione, who has voiced concerns over administrative costs in Community Development, said that he does not agree with shutting people out of a public building during regular business hours, even if it increases efficiency.

"I think it's quite ridiculous," he said. "I think it cuts off the public's access to government."

Fruscione said that he is all for increasing efficiency but not at the cost of public access.

"That's fine," Fruscione said. "As long as it's not taking away from the programs that we are trying to run out of (Community Development)."