City Hall Hours To Change In April

OCEAN CITY – Resort officials have agreed to reduce operating hours at city hall.

Last month, the Mayor and City Council had before them a recommendation to reduce the hours of operation at city hall from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., effective April 3. City Manager Terry McGean said the recommendation comes from requests by the city clerk and smaller departments within the building.

“The typical workday for a city employee is eight hours plus a half hour of unpaid lunch,” he explained. “Especially with these smaller departments, they are always sort of fighting with people coming in a half hour ahead or overlapping a half hour behind.”

McGean pointed out that the city clerk had tracked visitation over the course of four months last summer and had found only 33 of city hall’s 3,300 visitors had entered the building after 4:30 p.m.

“I also asked the clerk to look at all the other municipalities and government offices in the area,” he said. “None of them stay open past 4:30. We do get a lot of people coming in early, particularly on the building permit side because we have contractors starting earlier in the morning.”

To that end, McGean said he was recommending that hours be abbreviated by 30 minutes. Council Secretary Tony DeLuca questioned if the town had considered staggered shifts.

“That’s essentially what happens now,” McGean replied. “What happens is when you have smaller departments, even that sometimes can become an issue. If somebody is sick, somebody’s on vacation, manning the office becomes a problem.”

DeLuca said he wanted to see hours of operation at city hall be extended.

“Looking at this, my initial thought was instead of decreasing the hours, we should extend the hours …,” he said. “To me, at city hall, we’re in the customer service business.”

McGean said he would agree if the demand was there. Council President Matt James agreed.

“I initially had the same thought,” he said. “But as someone who has to manage schedules, I completely understand, especially when we have some departments with limited staff. I think the initial thought was spot on, but from a practicality standpoint, it doesn’t work.”

McGean noted that with more services available online, fewer people were coming to city hall to conduct their business. He said he saw no reason to keep the facility open to 5 p.m.

“There’s just not the demand to have a physical presence in the building at those hours, quite honestly,” he said.

James pointed out that officials could always revisit the issue, should they receive any complaints.

“If I get a motion to move forward with this, and it doesn’t work, we will certainly hear from the public,” he said. “If we get calls and complaints, we can revisit it if we have to.”

With no further discussion, the council voted 6-1, with DeLuca opposed, to modify hours of operation at city hall. Officials noted that city hall hours and additional city services can be found on the town’s website,

“With electronic bill pay and online accessibility for permitting and other city services, the need for city hall to remain open until 5 p.m. has changed,” McGean said in a statement last month. “We are confident that we can offer our residents and visitors the same high level of service with a 30-minute reduction in our operating hours.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.