The city of West University Place has taken additional steps, starting today (Monday, April 6) to minimize contact between employees and the public to avoid communal spread of the coronavirus — including halting in-person utility bill payments for now.
“While we enjoy the one on one interaction with our customers wanting to pay their utility bills in person, we feel that it is necessary to stop accepting utility payments in person for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic,” read the announcement.
Payments may still be made online (through the city’s website, westutx.gov), by snail-mail, or through the utility payment dropbox on Amherst Street behind the Municipal Building. For guidance, staff is working remotely but reachable by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 713-662-5824.
Starting today, remote staffing has also begun for employees in Parks & Recreation, Senior Services, Human Resources, Financial Services and the Municipal Court. To handle any job functions that can’t be accomplished remotely, limited staff will work onsite on certain days.
According to the city’s statement, the Public Works Department is considering modifying its staffing options — such as staggering shifts or alternating staff workdays — that would retain service levels.
“While we do not envision these changes will cause any delay in the superior services we strive to provide, there may be occasions where responses are delayed. We appreciate your patience and understanding during this time,” the statement read. “These changes WILL NOT impact services for police, fire and public works (code enforcement, animal control, trash collection, water, drainage, sewer and streets).
Still, the message to residents is clear: City staff is functioning at full levels with minimal personal contact, and until the public health crisis has passed, residents should handle anything but emergency matters online or by phone.