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Cleveland City Council approves $4 million in ARPA funding for improved 311 call center services

Seal of Cleveland City Council hangs on a wall in a city council committee room.
Natalia Garcia
Ideastream Public Media
Cleveland residents can call the 311 non-emergency hotline for issues such as animal services, reporting potholes or tree trimming requests.

Cleveland City Council has approved Mayor Justin Bibb’s proposal to use $4 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to improve its 311 call center Monday.

Instead of 911 or 988, 311 is a non-emergency hotline that residents can dial for help including reporting potholes, making tree trimming requests and inquiring about animal services.

Ward 12 councilwoman Rebecca Maurer supported the proposal and said a reliable 311 system will improve trust in local government.

“We need to get the bread and butter of city government correct to have residents trust and believe that local government is working,” said Maurer said. “If you can’t get a garbage bin replaced quickly and swiftly, then we aren’t doing our jobs.”

Part of the funding will go toward the call center’s software for managing calls – specifically a program referred to as a CRM, a customer relationship management system.

The city says the new technology will better track calls, better distribute them and improve the way it collects information from residents. It will expand access to 311 and it will allow residents to more easily check the status of their requests through tracking numbers.

“Truly across the board I think council members understand that we need to get these basic city services back on track,” Maurer said.

Maurer said council offices are often getting calls and requests that the 311 call center is better suited to manage. She said improved technology will help residents get the resources they need more efficiently.

Maurer said new technology isn’t enough. She said a plan to make residents more aware that this service is available needs to go hand-in-hand with the new software.

“Residents don’t even know they can call 311. They call their city council office instead, or worse they end up on the main phone tree at city hall and are bouncing around between departments,” Maurer said. “We not only need to improve the technology at 311, but we also need to residents know that it’s a platform that can deliver.”

Gabriel Kramer is a reporter/producer and the host of “NewsDepth,” Ideastream Public Media's news show for kids.