Trouble Reaching Kitsap County After Hours?

Chris Henry here. We got an e-mail from Mike Eliason earlier this week with complaints about Kitsap County’s after hours phone system.

I contacted Doug Bear, the county’s public communications manager, to see if he’s fielded similar complaints. He said he hadn’t but would look into it. Doug said the information services department actually deals with the nuts and bolts of how the phone system works, so I cc’d Bud Harris, IT director.

South Kitsap Commissioner Charlotte Garrido, who also replied to Mike (see below), told me today that this is the first such complaint (regarding the phone system) that she’s received. Charlotte, however, said she and the rest of the board would address the problem. “That’s something we will correct,” she said.

The exchange between Charlotte and Mike is below. So, has anyone else had similar problems?

Mike Eliason, in an e-mail to the county commissioners said:
“Please consider fixing your cumbersome after-hours answering service:

Callers to the BOCC office at 337-7146 receive a voicemail message directing them to “Kitsap One” at 337-5777. Callers to “Kitsap One” receive a voicemail explaining that the line is utilized by BOCC, DCD, Public Works, etc. Then, callers are given a prompt: “To leave a message, press one.”  If selected, callers are directed to a voicemail for Public Works without realizing that one of the following prompts (press 4) directs callers to the voicemail for the commissioners.  The “press 4” voicemail states, “This system no longer accepts voicemails.  Please call (me) at 337-4426.”  So, the caller has to place yet another call.

We have an easier time getting in touch with the Governor and United States Senators who represent six million constituents.

On the same note…Has the BOCC’s policy regarding answering electronic mail changed?  We’ve received complaints from many people during the past year regarding the lack of responses by individual commissioners, and we can not defend you since we have encountered the same problem.  To her credit, Commissioner Garrido has been the most responsive.  In the past, the public could always count on timely communications from Commissioners Endresen, Angel, and Lent, who provided exceptional constituent services.

Mike Eliason”

Commissioner Charlotte Garrido wrote back to Mike, who forwarded me her reply:

Thank you for the feedback about callers’ experiences.  There is no question that it is important for citizens to be able to reach the offices of their elected officials, and the after-hours service you describe is cumbersome.
I’ll ask that this matter be on our agenda for discussion.
I also appreciate your comments about communications with commissioners.  In fact, communications methods have become more difficult during the economic recession as we have reduced budgets.  The number of issues commissioners work on has maintained — with support from fewer staffers and their hours of employment.  We can review the lessons learned on this issue, too.

One thought on “Trouble Reaching Kitsap County After Hours?

  1. Chris Henry here.

    I heard back from Kitsap County Spokesman Doug Bear this morning. The problem with the after hour phone system has been fixed, he said. The snafu resulted from messages being routed to a secondary line instead of a primary line. No blinking light where staff on Mondays would have known to check the messages.

    “We appreciate Mike took the time to make us aware of it so we could correct it,” said Bear.

    The county’s Kitsap One line is available 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Fridays (even though some offices are closed on Fridays due to staffing cutbacks). Callers get a live person as I found out yesterday at 4:45 p.m., which I thought would be after hours. Kitsap One operators can answer most of the basic questions the public has, Bear said. If they don’t know the answer, they will contact the staff member or department (eg. commissioners) and leave a message.

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