Last week, clerical employees in the village of Brookfield’s building and finance departments set up shop in their new temporary digs — the back of the Edward Barcal Courtroom of the Brookfield Village Hall.
During office hours each day, the double doors of the court room are swung open and the block-like “table” that once stood in the center of the village hall lobby is pressed against the opening, forming a temporary service counter.
It’s a pretty makeshift set-up, to be sure, but it also gives a glimpse into the way the village hall service counter is going to work once renovations to the village hall offices are complete in the next month or so.
“Residents are able to do everything at the front table,” said Village Manager Keith Sbiral. “It’s been hard in the past six months, because we designed our staffing for a one-stop shop. Now we have a one-stop shop.”
In the past, customers had to choose between two service windows. One was for building department issues, such as obtaining permits. The other was for anyone wanting to get items such as a vehicle sticker or to pay a water bill.
If a resident had both a building issue and wanted to pay his water bill, he’d have to spend time standing in two different lines.
From here on out, not only will residents be able to get multiple issues handled, there likely will be room for another staffer to assist another customer at the same time.
“You’re only as good as your work environment,” Sbiral said. “We’re creating a physical space that’s better for employees and I think it’ll result in better service for our customers.”
In preparation for the move into the courtroom on Jan. 8, village offices were closed the day before as employees moved their work spaces and workers ran phone and computer network cables to the four temporary work stations.
Public works employees removed four rows of seats from the back of the courtroom to create the space for the desks. Those seats are being stored offsite until the renovations are complete.
“No one knew what to expect, but it’s working pretty well,” said Accounting Manager Jessica Rovner, one of the four employees who set up shop in the courtroom.
Staff relocated to make way for a $157,200 renovation of the areas that previously housed clerical workers in the building department and finance department. The renovation will consolidate files, making them more accessible to staff, open up the work space and create an additional conference space and a new computer server room. The project also calls for updating two staff bathrooms and making a small staff kitchen ADA-accessible.
Preparing for the office area demolition and temporary move also afforded staff an opportunity to purge a dumpster’s worth of accumulated paper, old furniture, cassette tapes of old village board meeting audio recordings, obsolete forms, and boxes of paper records that the village already has in digital format. During the purge, Sbiral found two boxes of “gold” coins that were made as commemorative souvenirs for the village’s 100th birthday in 1993.
At the Brookfield Village Board meeting on Monday, Sbiral also asked trustees to give him the go-ahead to seek an alternate bid item to make other improvements to the courtroom as well.
Sbiral would like to replace the carpeting and the 1970s-era orange vinyl seating with a modular system that would allow seats to be easily removed in order to make the room adaptable for other functions.