Officials at Anchorage City Hall have tightened up the building's hours and hired an extra security guard amid growing discomfort among employees about people entering for reasons unrelated to city business.
Employees had discovered people rummaging through trash bins or trying door handles on upper floors early in the morning, said Chris Schutte, the city development director, who oversees the real estate department.
On Monday, an additional security guard began patrolling City Hall, according to an employee bulletin posted Tuesday. The change means two guards are now stationed at City Hall most hours of the workday, instead of one.
The extra guard will cost the city about $50,000 annually, Schutte said.
Officials are also opening the building at 7:30 a.m. instead of 7 a.m., and telling employees who need to get to work earlier to bring ID badges. Swipe cards will be needed to access the stairwell from the ground floor elevators.
Schutte said there was no single incident that sparked the changes.
"It was a culmination of things," he said.
When city officials looked at other public buildings in the downtown area, City Hall had different hours, Schutte said.
He said the changes put City Hall more in line with access to other public properties, like the state-owned Atwood Building a block away.
Schutte couldn't exactly say whether more people had been coming into City Hall than in the past. But he said use of the City Hall restrooms appears to have increased since public restrooms across the street at the downtown transit center shut down after a fire.
Along with the transit center restroom episode, City Hall is the latest public building in the downtown area to change its hours and security presence in response to disturbances.
Last month, U.S. Postal Service officials announced new hours and tighter security at a post office on Ninth Avenue and Ingra Street after discovering that roughly 20 people had bypassed a locking system and spent the night in the lobby.