Deputy City Clerk Judy Carr typically arrives for work at Maquoketa City Hall at about 7 a.m. In many government buildings, the early morning hour would afford quiet time to complete routine tasks. Depending on the day, however, customers stand at the city hall service window within minutes awaiting help.

That doesn’t allow Carr, or other city employees, to prepare for the day’s tasks or complete their other daily duties, City Manager Gerald Smith told Maquoketa city council members Monday night.

For that reason and others, Smith asked the council to consider reducing the hours in which the public can enter City Hall to conduct business. 

Maquoketa City Hall currently opens to the public at 7 a.m. and closes at 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Smith recommended opening to the public two hours later, at 9 a.m., so employees can “catch up with the prior day’s work, prepare for the current day, and chip away at the backlog.”

Staff still would be in the office at 7:30 a.m. or 8 a.m., but the public would not be able to conduct business until 9 a.m., Smith explained.

“Right now we are sort of over-available to the public,” Smith said, adding the need to “take a step back and be more efficient.”

Smith also noted that current City Hall staff are training two new employees and preparing for the upcoming retirement of city finance clerk Diane Frandsen. Finance clerk Kristin Bowman has been on the job for about 90 days and confidential secretary Maggi Muhlhausen started about three weeks ago.

Council members Erica Barker, Josh Collister and Jessica Kean voiced concerns for the public should City Hall hours be reduced. They said 9 a.m. was too late to open for the public. 

Some people work out of town and the early morning hours before they leave for work are the only time they likely have to conduct city business, Barker said.

“It’s not our intent to limit access, but we are working with a limited workforce,” Smith said.

Council members consented to send the matter to the city’s Personnel Committee for further consideration.