SOUTH BEND – The city of South Bend is working to enhance its customer service.
The administration is in the process of creating an informational phone line.
It won't be up and running for a couple months, but the idea is people can dial three numbers and get all the information and help they need.
Lea Allen loves her side porch but hates her neighbor's trees which hang over the fence.
"All that stuff falls on my patio," says Allen.
No one lives in the house. It's been vacant for at least 2 years.
"Its not a neglected property. It's just I don't know who to talk to about the trees," says Allen.
She has tried to call the city of South Bend, but she ran into a dead end.
"I have been transferred like five times, and with the first person I talked to and they don't know what to do. It is just not in their job description and maybe they just don't know," says Allen.
Allen is excited that the city will soon be offering an informational call line.
Allen and anyone else who wants information about the city of South Bend will be able to dial 311 and get the information they need.
"If we don't know what it is right off the top of our heads or in our knowledge base, then we are going to find the answer and follow up with you to make sure it is complete to your satisfaction," says 311 Project Coordinator Kristopher Priemer.
The program isn't up and running yet. If you were to call, you would get a phone message: "You've reached the future sight of the city of South Bend 311 Service Center..."
City leaders say they expect the phone line will be up and running in the next two months. Right now, the new call center "liaisons" are being trained. Priemer says there will be four employees answering phones during the day although their exact hours of operation have not been worked out.
The call center will be located in the city's Water Works building on the corner of Colfax and Main street. The fifth employee of the call center currently works for the water department and will also supervise the call center.
Allen is looking forward to getting her questions answered.
"You know, even if I have to live with it," she says.
The 311 call line will cost the city about $320,000 -- mostly for salaries. According to the city controllers office, the money and staff will come from other departments in the city. The City Council approved the plan as part of the 2013 budget in the fall.
According to Mayor Pete Buttigieg's office, this has been an initiative of his since he began campaigning.
"A 311 phone line for South Bend has been a priority for our administration because it will truly offer a 'one stop shop' for information and city services. Many communities across the country have these helpful lines so residents and businesses can get direct assistance. 311 also helps South Bend become a more tech-savvy community and will enhance the overall customer service experience," the mayor said in a statement to WSBT.
Again, the call center is not up and running yet. For more information, you can call the mayor's office: (574) 235-9261