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North Hempstead sets Call Center record

North Hempstead -- Supervisor Jon Kaiman Next year’s

North Hempstead -- Supervisor Jon Kaiman

Next year’s major challenges include funding operations while waiting on revenue from the county, maintaining infrastructure, and streamlining staffing while offering the same level of service, Supervisor Jon Kaiman said.

North Hempstead is wrangling over money with Nassau County which, Kaiman said, owes the town millions in mortgage tax and sales tax revenue but has said it can’t pay because that might cause a dire financial strain.

“That’s put quite a burden on us,” he said. “We’re going to be required to go for short-term lending if they don’t pay the bills.”

Other challenges include maintaining infrastructure and facilities — from filling potholes to addressing flooding issue — with less revenue, and providing services that attract and retain residents while holding the line on staffing. “We are absolutely looking for ways to hold the line on staff or reduce staff,” Kaiman said.

(May, 2011) Credit: David Pokress

North Hempstead’s 311 Call Center received a record number of calls in 2011, town officials said.

The nonemergency hotline responded to 181,483 calls last year, up from 167,472 in 2010. There have been more than 500,000 calls since it was unveiled in 2005.

“The ‘One-Call-To-Town-Hall’ concept has put an end to what often was a long, frustrating process of calls being snagged in bureaucratic bottle neck where they were transferred back and forth in order to get information or assistance,” Supervisor Jon Kaiman said in a statement. “Not only does it help us gauge the quality and timeliness of the services we deliver, but it also helps us squeeze more out of our taxpayer dollars.”

Calls to 311 give residents a central place for inquiries about town departments and events. Representatives can answer queries without transferring calls to the respective departments.

The call center’s most popular inquires pertain to medical transportation, potholes and other street maintenance, and general information such as directions and event times, said town spokesman Sid Nathan.

“We get 15,000 calls just on medical transportation itself since the program started,” he said.

Earlier this month, Hempstead Village Mayor Wayne Hall, who is considering a similar system, met with Kaiman to tour the Call Center. Last month, the Town of Southampton created a similar Citizen Response Center for its residents.

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