Apparently, it doesn't matter to most whether they stay anonymous when filing complaints to county officials.
A policy enacted six months ago that prevents callers to Columbia County's 311 line from having their complaints filed anonymously hasn't hindered the number of calls since the policy was started, county officials say.
"The number of total calls has doubled and the number of anonymous complaints (requests) has slightly increased," said Pam Tucker, the director of the county's Emergency Services division.
The policy was instituted because there was an inconsistency in how different departments were allowing complaints to come in.
Cheryl Garcia, a 311 Customer Services and Information Center supervisor, said the policy does not require callers to provide their name or address in order to register a complaint, but almost all calls to the information desk are registered by caller ID.
County workers can no longer promise a caller that any of their information can be kept private.
Tucker said the 311 line received 3,585 calls from January to May 2005, with 190 of those callers requesting anonymity.
In the first five months of 2006, 6,990 calls were made to the 311 line and only 205 of those callers were anonymous.
Complaints to the 311 line range from those about a neighbor's yard to stormwater problems or right of way maintenance.
Anyone can fill out a Freedom of Information request form and receive a copy of the complaint and all material associated with that call, including a code compliance officer's notes and any other updates or actions taken, Garcia said.
"It hasn't really discouraged anyone, even after we explain everything," she said. "We've had no gripes or people who complained (about the policy) and only one or two disgruntled people."
Callers who do not want to provide contact information and remain as anonymous as possible are given a tracking number, which they can provide when they call to check the status of their complaint.
However, callers who wish to remain anonymous must be aware that their statements might give away who they are, Garcia said.
"For the most part, people don't seem to care," Tucker said. "They report things every day."
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