‘We’re doing all the work’: Petersburg’s lone cashier calls out city for lack of manpower

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Petersburg’s one and only cashier, who is tasked with collecting the millions of dollars owed to the city, is blowing the whistle on what she says is a lack of manpower in the city’s treasurer’s office.

“Come and look at some of our jobs, see what we’re doing, see that we are important to this city, more so important than they are,” City of Petersburg Cashier Karen Freeman said. “They are making the big bucks, we’re doing all the work.”

City residents on Thursday waited in line upwards of 30-45 minutes trying to pay water bills, personal property taxes and others bills. But as 8News discovered, the city has left just one person in charge of helping those residents, and even their job could soon be cut.

“I don’t think they are equipped to handle the business that is coming in and out of here,” one resident told 8News Reporter Parker Slaybaugh.

The employee tasked with handling that business agrees.

“Normally we have three cashiers, now we’re down to one,” Freeman said.  “The money that walks in the door, I take.”

Freeman has served as a city cashier for four years, but says when all of the collecting rests on her shoulders — even though she’s “pretty quick” — the lines are still too long.

“Not bragging, but I’m pretty quick,” Freeman said. “A line to the door from 8:30 (a.m.) to 4:30 (p.m.).”

Other employees try to help when they can, but all of them have other jobs and tasks of their own.

Despite the frustrations, Freeman says she still greets every customer with a smile.

“I do, I have some very nice customers and some that extend their niceness to me and tell me that I am appreciated and that’s what keeps me going,” she said.

“Normally we have three cashiers, now we’re down to one. The money that walks in the door, I take.” — Petersburg cashier Karen Freeman

But pushing forward just got a lot harder for this hard-working, dedicated employee.

“I heard that my position is one of the ones that is going to be eliminated,” Freeman explained.

Freeman could be out of a job if city council passes the budget that has been proposed by the Robert Bobb Group.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said. “I don’t have a clue.”

Perhaps what bothers Freeman the most is that the people who could potentially sign her pink slip have never stopped by her window to see the needs of her department.

“The people that are making the decision are not in this office seeing what goes on on both sides of this office, they don’t have a clue,” Freeman said.

Now, speaking directly at city council and other city leaders, Freeman has just one wish before they send her packing:

“I wish they would think about the people they are hurting,” Freeman said. “If they just come and look at some of our jobs, see what we’re doing, see that we are important.”

The budget will be voted on during the upcoming June 6 council meeting. City Treasurer Kevin Brown is expected to appear before council to try and save Freeman’s job and others being cut.

8News reached out to the city for comment but has not heard back.

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