Adapting at City Hall

Finance Clerk April Lichty and her co-workers are hard at work every day at City Hall, which continues to undergo a number of changes the City hopes will lead to better customer service in many areas. Photo / Per Peterson

New-look finance and administration department continues to transform in the name of customer service for all

By Per Peterson

Where’s the busiest place in Tracy? Is it Casey’s? Maybe Food Pride? Midwest Supply or Ace Hardware?

All good answers. But if you’re looking to award a location as the most congested place in town on a weekday, City Hall would certainly be in the running.

In a way, City Hall has experienced a perfect storm. First, the City of Tracy is one of only a couple area locations that don’t require an appointment, and people who take driver exams are funneled to either Redwood Falls or here. Then there’s the pandemic, that as everyone knows requires social distancing. Finally, City employees downtown are still being trained on a new software system that was just implemented in November.

“We would like to thank everyone for their patience and for following our social distancing guidelines,” said Finance Clerk April Lichty. “We give our best customer service while also tending to the background financial aspects of our jobs.”

The pandemic closed Tracy’s motor vehicle office from March 23-April 13; from April 13-Nov. 16, Tracy served customers only through an outside window because of indoor social distancing guidelines. Many locations weren’t able to open as soon as the Tracy office did, which created long lines outside, as both the back log of local customers were served, as were others from all over the region.

When the State closed down last March, the City’s driver’s license portion was closed for an extended period — about two months. The City was able to start issuing driver’s licenses and were averaging 18 licenses a day from that point on — that was on top of two months of a back log of licenses that expired and a federal guideline for Real ID requirements looming. Also, Tracy was the only station locally open to process driver’s licenses for a few months. The Tracy office handled 1,847 driver’s licenses in 10 months during the COVID-19 year of 2020, compared to 1,086 for the entire year of 2019, according to the City department. The City’s total revenue resulting from the recent added traffic has jumped to well more than $60,000 in 2020, compared to a little more than $50,000 in 2019 and $50,000 in 2018.

Tracy City Administrator Erik Hansen said starting a new chapter at City Hall is important because it is the central hub for all internal and most external customer service in town — and from surrounding areas for that matter.

“They can’t provide good customer service when they’re overwhelmed,” Hansen said of the finance and administration crew, which has grown by one with the addition of Kris Listul as the City’s  finance and administration director. “You’ve seen the lines out there. We can’t move forward without a financial system and efficient procedures — when (City employees) are more efficient, they can take on work from other people, because they are not as overwhelmed.”

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.