A sensible solution
Aug. 24, 2018
by Ivan Raconteur

Every so often, I’m confronted with an example of a common sense solution.

When that happens, it makes me happy for the rest of the day.

In this case, it involved staffing at a government entity.

It’s true there have been times when I’ve been critical of personnel decisions in public settings.

Occasionally, I’ve had the impression that the number of employees at some public institutions seems to grow faster than those invasive species they are always warning us about.

That’s what makes cases like the one I observed this week so special.

Some wise people at the Wright County Government Center got together and came up with a common sense solution to a staffing situation, and the county board approved the change.

The first problem involved the license bureau. Staff members in that department have been struggling to keep up since the epic fail of the Minnesota License and Renewal System (MNLARS).

That has been a colossal debacle even by government standards, and, unfortunately, it’s the front-line employees who have borne the brunt of customers wrath and frustration.

Meanwhile, for the past several years, the receptionist at the Wright County Government Center has been, by some standards, an under-utilized asset.

Department heads and the county board have looked for ways to improve that situation.

Discussion at some previous board meetings indicated that the receptionist position has changed over the years.

There was a time when many people were contacting the county were routed through the receptionist.

In recent years, however, an increasing number of residents have been able to get what they need by visiting the county website. The county has made investments to make that as convenient as possible.

Instead of just throwing resources at the currently over-burdened license bureau, some creative individuals came up with a better plan.

They recruited volunteers from the community to staff the reception desk during peak periods. During times when the desk is not staffed, the county will have a map showing where visitors need to go for various services. There will also be answers to common questions posted in the lobby.

Making this change will free up a staff person who can now assist customers in the license bureau.

The county board approved the changes, which will solve two staffing issues, and will do so without significantly reducing services to county residents.

Training for the volunteers will take place early in September. I hope those volunteers know they will not only be doing a service for their fellow county residents, but striking a blow for common sense in government, and that’s something we can all celebrate.

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