Originally created 01/16/97

Augusta will launch complaint line for citizens



Has your local government got a line for you.

Starting next Tuesday, Augusta residents with problems, questions, complaints or suggestions involving the consolidated government will be able to call 821-2300 and get a response, according to administrator Randy Oliver.

That will be the main number. The staff in the newly created public relations department will take the calls, write them up, refer them to the proper government department for action or an answer and follow-up with the caller, said Mr. Oliver.

"We want to be responsive," he said. "It's not like if you go out and get hamburgers, you can go to different restaurants. With government you don't have that flexibility, but we think we ought to give them that kind of service."

Mr. Oliver's former employer, Polk County, Fla., had such a system which worked very well, he said.

"There are going to be times we tell people, `This is an issue that deals with your personal property, and we can't help you.' We aren't going to always be able to say yes, but we believe citizens deserve a timely answer to their problems."

Does this mean residents should no longer call the commissioner representing their district?

"They're always free to call their commissioners, but we're going to try to convince them if they call this number they'll get quicker response than if they call their commissioner who then has to come through the hot line," Mr. Oliver said.

"We believe they should get the same services as a commissioner when he calls. No different."

Commissioner Ulmer Bridges said he doesn't get many calls from constituents, but he expects the new system to cut down on those.

"And we will to get an update on the status of the calls, and we can check back with the constituents if we choose to see if they were satisfied or got the problem solved," he said. "So I think it's a wonderful service."