Minneapolis 311 Call Center Open on Weekends

Updated: 07/06/2014 10:43 PM KSTP.com By: Brandi Powell

You've got questions on everything from fireworks rules to flood assistance? 311 can help you get answers.

The City of Minneapolis answering service operates on a $3 million budget each year.
Now, it'll be open on weekends thanks to $250,000 dollars in extra cash.

With phone lines at a near constant ring, Customer Service Agent Dan Mills doesn't get too many breaks.

"You get 10 calls in a row and then all of a sudden you get a little break," Mills said. "It's just a very different beast."

Now those calls are answered by live operators seven days a week. Many calls are for animal control and about 50 percent are for potholes.

And they've been inundated with calls for storm and flood help, according to Don Stickney, Director of the 311 Call Center.

"Recently when we got all of the rains, and the extra water and everything, a couple of Saturdays we saw a lot of extra calls, people wondering what to do, how to do it - it was a good thing that we were open," Stickney said.

The types of calls changed this weekend with the Fourth of July holiday.

Many of you probably fired off some fireworks this holiday weekend and some of you thought it was too much fanfare. 311 was closed on the Fourth of July, but when they opened this weekend, there were nearly 40 voicemails about fireworks complaints.

"I think it's proving to be well worth that money," Stickney said. "For that $250,000 we expand our hours by 26 percent. That is coverage that wasn't there before."

Now, they can take care of the 1500 calls they normally get on Mondays without dealing with 150 voicemails they'd get over the weekend.

"Mondays are a lot easier now," Mills said. "You can tell. it used to be the toughest day, you know, you're going in with the back log of the last two days."

In the midst of 311's weekend debut, there's already hope they'll get into the Mayor's upcoming budget.

"I think the funding will be there and continue," Stickney said. "In fact there may even be some thoughts about maybe even expanding that."

The 311 Call Center brought on three new people to help staff the weekends.

Beginning next year, you'll be able to text 311 to report problems and find information.