Officials have plans on the drawing board for a proposed $400,000 welcome center, but City Manager Bill Ed Cannon told the city council Monday that a similar purpose can be fulfilled with existing space inside the building that houses city government.
Cannon proposes moving the utilities billing department into an adjoining former bank, utilizing already-in-place drive-throughs, and converting the billing and payments space into a welcome center, which could be staffed five days a week.
A receptionist could handle the welcoming and provide more efficient phone service, Cannon said. A written statement to the council explained, “The phone calls here are answered when there is someone available to answer them in the department where they are directed. We have received numerous complaints from customers regarding not being able to get someone to answer in all departments and this is hurting the customer service we strive to provide.”
Mayor Bob McLean said he would support that plan, over a welcome center that would not be staffed.
The proposed welcome center envisions much more than information, including gathering spaces, at the former Industrial Supply site. The city would have to apply for and be awarded a grant to re-work this area into a welcome center. Council previously designated $180,000 from the hospitality tax revenue for the new welcome center.
Councilwoman Shirley Jenkins said opening drive-throughs for utilities payment is a good idea since many city customers are older people, who can have trouble walking into city hall to pay their bills.
In addition to hearing Cannon’s proposal, the council agreed to put $125,193 toward replacement of the MS Bailey Municipal Center’s HVAC. Cannon said new technologies should be examined in heating and cooling the downtown Clinton building.
Also, the council heard that FY18-19 budget discussions will begin soon, and the members agreed to re-institute the public works fee of $20. Money from this fee will be designated for city streets.
Council also recognized Boy Scout Troop 111 working on merit badges for government and communications and gave awards to winners of the Palmetto Pride Litter Trashes Everyone art contest - Sarah Anderson from Eastside Elementary, William Wainwright from Joanna Woodson Elementary and Leia Upton from Clinton Elementary.
Drawings by the three winners will be displayed as vinyl decals on the side of the city’s garbage truck and will go on to statewide competition.