McAllen launches 3-1-1 call center

McALLEN — In the city and have a need? Dial 3-1-1, city officials announced Tuesday.

The non-emergency customer service call center is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and city officials said the line will eventually be in service at all hours. But if there’s an emergency, city officials urged residents to dial 9-1-1.

“If your neighbor’s house has tall grass? 3-1-1. If it’s on fire? 9-1-1,” Marco Tovias, McAllen customer service coordinator, said at a news conference Tuesday at city hall announcing the new initiative, which included an online advertising campaign in conjunction with ImageHouse Media.

The 3-1-1 program will be available for anyone that dials the number from a landline or cellphone within city limits, Tovias said. It is another effort by the city to enhance customer service, complimenting the city’s 3-1-1 mobile app, where residents can contact the city with any issues or questions.

“It has never been easier to communicate with your city than it is, literally, today,” said Jeff Johnston, McAllen assistant city manager. “If you’d like to report a weedy lot or a pothole, just call 3-1-1. If you want to request a roll-off container or you want to know when the park or the municipal pool opens, dial 3-1-1.”

The city receives roughly 100,000 calls for service per year, Tovias said. And a program similar to the 3-1-1 program has existed at the city for seven years, but the contact number for the customer service line had been much more complicated than the three-digit one announced on Tuesday.

Other cities in the state and the nation have a 3-1-1 program, but Johnston said McAllen is the first in South Texas.

“The mayor has always liked the idea of having something centralized for residents,” Tovias said. “And now we have this.”