Concerns with ‘Report a Concern’ addressed

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published January 26, 2016

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Meant to speed up problems getting to city administrators’ attention, the “Report a Concern” button on has instead sometimes caused more consternation to residents than the original problem they were trying to report.

But with investigation into the problem by the city’s new assistant city manager, Bill Gambill, St. Clair Shores hopes that will become a thing of the past.

Hired in November, one of Gambill’s first assignments was to take a look at the reports being sent to department heads throughout the city in response to residents’ concerns and figure out why some issues weren’t being addressed in a timely manner.

“Part of it was learning what we can do with this system and what we can’t do,” Gambill told City Council Jan. 18. 

Gambill said that the website gives city staff a variety of canned messages they can use to reply to residents to let them know their question or concern has been received, but he wanted to have more consistency between departments in their response. To that end, he said he has been meeting with the various departments to figure out how quickly they were responding, if they were responding to every concern, and what they were doing when a concern had been resolved.

“Some were doing better than others at responding,” he said, explaining that he “set some expectations,” including that the system should be checked daily and that residents should be informed of the outcome of their concern. 

The meetings will continue to make sure everyone stays on track, he said.

“I will be continually working on this to get it up to snuff,” he said. 

City Manager Mike Smith said they also discovered that some of the residents’ queries were being sent to the wrong department, so that was fixed. Another problem, he said, was that if residents were using the mobile app, concerns sent from that “Report a Concern” button were not going to anyone in the city.

“All those folks that reported on a mobile device kind of went out into cyberspace,” he said. 

They discovered the problem when Smith himself sent in a concern to see how quickly it would be sent to a department. Days went by and the concern had not reached city officials. He said they then contacted the web developer, who has fixed the problem.

“We apologize for not getting back to you, but we never got it,” he said, addressing residents who have used the app in the past to report concerns. That feature has now been enabled and the city will receive those messages.

Council members said they hope Gambill will continue to work with departments to make sure they are addressing resident concerns and following up with them after the fact to alert them to the resolution of the matter as well.

“I think it’s extremely important that we have some kind of communication after the fact,” Councilman Ron Frederick said. “It’s the right thing to do.”