Hello: Live operator to begin answering Apache Junction phone line

A view of Apache Junction City Councilwoman Gail Evans and Vice Mayor Chip Wilson at a recent meeting. (Arianna Grainey, Independent Newsmedia)

City of Apache Junction officials are planning to have an employee answer its main phone line to listen to complaints and direct calls instead of the present recorded message.

“Because we’re in the part right now of our budgetary meetings and everything for our June budget, I’d like to talk about actually hiring someone to do nothing but answer the phone because sometimes if someone’s mad and upset, if you can just let it out — even though that person can’t necessarily solve it — at least you know the message is going to get wherever it has to go and get a call back,” Councilwoman Gail Evans said at the March 4 Apache Junction City Council work session.

Anyone answering the main phone line would need to be trained in understanding the departments in the municipality, City Manager Bryant Powell said.

“We could help them get to the right department and/or get to the right agency,” he said.

“The city government, as you may guess, people believe we know everything about everything — we know what businesses are going on a vacant lot, we know what’s going in to answer Social Security — so that person is going to have to be trained to some degree where we can point them to if they didn’t get to the right agency or to the right department,” Mr. Powell said.

Later in the work session Mr. Powell said the city would soon have an employee answering the main phone number.

“So we’ll work right away on ‘8002’ or having someone answer that number, ‘Here’s the staff directory,’ and then we’ll report back during the budget process on that,” he said.

Ms. Evans’ suggestion for a person answering the phone came during an agenda item on centralizing a citizen-complaint process in the city manager’s office using social media.

She suggested links be added to the city’s various Facebook pages so residents can see all that the city has to offer.

“If people go to the Paws and Claws website, they miss everything else we have on the other pages,” Ms. Evans said.

The city has six Facebook pages — a city page, parks, police, Paws and Claws, library and Visit AJ — Al Bravo, public information officer, said to the council.

“There’s also the city’s website, which is not that easy to navigate,” Mayor Jeff Serdy said.

He asked if city officials are looking into making the regular website, which is ajcity.net, more navigable.

“I can tell you that our initial research — and I’m talking about the citizen survey that we’ve done now twice in the last two years — the response we get from those folks is they get a lot of their news from the webpage. So people are finding stuff somehow,” Mr. Bravo said.

City Manager Powell said the city needs to refresh the website.

“We do need to do a refresher on it. I don’t know if it will be in this year’s budget,” he said.

Apache Junction’s main phone line is 480-982-8002.

Editor Richard Dyer can be reached at rdyer@newszap.com

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