By John Schaffner

Rob Hunter, Atlanta’s commissioner of Watershed Management, told two members of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods during a recent meeting at Atlanta City Hall that his department is investing a great deal of time, money, people and training to improve its customer service.

Kristy Gillmann and George Mirgorod reported to members of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods at its March meeting that Hunter said some of the planned improvements are targeted for implementation by June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Gillmann said she and Mirgorod arranged to meet with Hunter to hear specific implementation items, milestones, measures and timelines for achievement in the coming year, which Hunter had told the council in February he could provide if representatives came to meet with him.

Gillmann said the problem was that Hunter had forgotten the purpose of the meeting. He wanted to talk about other things

They were able to get on track to discuss action items.

Hunter told Gillmann and Mirgorod that front-line customer service representatives are being trained to have the authority to make certain adjustments in customer bills, without having to get approval from a supervisor. That training is scheduled to be completed by the end of the fiscal year.

But Gillmann indicated that so far promises made about improved customer service are not reality.

Gillmann reported that Hunter agreed to send a department representative to each month’s council of neighborhoods meeting and offered that he or Deputy Commissioner Sheila Pierce would attend the meetings on a quarterly basis.

Gillmann said she committed that the Buckhead council would define specific ideas for improving communication between the department and its customers in Buckhead and outline the type of information members of the council would like to hear reported at its meetings by representatives from the watershed management department.

The city’s new chief operating officer, Peter Aman, was attending the March council of neighborhoods meeting and encouraged Gillmann and others to contact him if there were problems in communicating with the watershed management department.

“All of the city’s departments and department heads report to me,” Aman said. “So Commissioner Hunter works for me.”

He even encouraged Gillman to stop by his home and talk with him about problems if necessary.

“I live right here near Chastain Park,” he said.