published Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Councilwoman Deborah Scott critical of new 311 position

by Cliff Hightower
Chattanooga City Council member Deborah Scott is seen in this file photo.
Chattanooga City Council member Deborah Scott is seen in this file photo.
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Mayor Ron Littlefield's administration should explain why a new position in the 311 department is necessary, Councilwoman Deborah Scott said Tuesday.

And she wants more answers on why the mayor's deputy, Anita Ebersole, is the one pegged for the position.

"I think the council needs an explanation," she said. "If you don't want people to wait on a phone being picked up, you add an operator, not a supervisor."

Richard Beeland, spokesman for Littlefield, confirmed Tuesday that Ebersole is being considered for the new position of director of 311. This comes just weeks after Littlefield tried to install her as City Court clerk.

Scott wouldn't go so far to say there was favoritism in play.

"What do you think?" she asked.

Beeland would not respond to questions about favoritism. Ebersole could not be reached for comment, and the current director of information services, Mark Keil, who is the current head of 311, could not be reached for comment.

Beeland said the move is being made because of the increase of demand in 311, especially now that the city's information line also is taking calls about sewer bills.

He said Ebersole used to work in 311, so she has the necessary experience. He did not say whether she would keep her current $95,000-a-year salary.

"I don't know if that's something that's been determined," he said.

Currently, Customer Service Supervisor Liz Henley manages the department and Keil is her immediate supervisor. Beeland would not comment on whether Henley has the qualifications to take over as director.

"That's up for [Information Services] to decide," he said.

Scott said she's heard no complaints about 311, and it seems to be operating efficiently. She does not understand the sudden need to add another layer of government when the mayor has preached about efficiency through government consolidation for years.

"I've got more questions than answers," she said.

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