2/23/2012 9:55:00 AM Town officials consider restoring 5-day workweek
Ken Hedler Special to the Tribune
An improving economy and growing demand for customer service might prompt town government leaders to restore a five-day workweek and reopen three floors of the Civic Center on Fridays in July.
"We see it as a positive thing, to restore full-time hours to employees," Human Resources Director Karen Reed said.
However, any decision to restore a five-day workweek and increase employee hours from 38 to 40 per week awaits budget meetings that begin in May and will require the support of the Town Council, Deputy Town Manager Ryan Judy said.
Councilwoman Lora Lee Nye sounded receptive.
"I always want to provide the best level of service to our citizens," Nye said after arriving at the council office Wednesday. "I am ready to restore full service to our citizens."
The plan to restore hours would not affect the library and the Mountain Valley Splash swimming pool because increasing hours would require hiring more staff, Judy said. The library is closed Mondays and is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, and the pool at Mountain Valley Park is closed Sundays during its summer run.
The restored workweek also would not go into effect until the 2012-2013 fiscal year, which starts July 1, Judy said.
The reduced workweek went into effect in November 2009 as an austerity measure to cut employee costs by 5 percent amid a 15 percent decline in sales tax revenues in Prescott Valley. The austerity measure exempted the police force and did not apply to the magistrate court, which is located on the first floor of the Civic Center.
Then-Human Resources Director Danielle Gersper estimated that the 5 percent cuts would save the town about $250,000 in the 2009-2010 fiscal year.
Town officials at the time implemented a four-day-a-week schedule in which offices and customer service counters at the Civic Center became open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.
Reopening the other floors of the building would help meet the needs of contractors seeking building inspections and residents paying bills, Judy said.
Sandy Griffis, executive director of the Yavapai County Contractors Association, expressed support for the proposal.
She stated in an email: "There are advantages and disadvantages to a four-day work week, and one of them, the construction industry has discovered, is that a four-day work week is not conducive to their business operations.
"I think our building department needs to be open five days per week to better serve the builders and consumers. Being closed on Fridays could also cause people to avoid the permit process or inspection process, and it is possible that smaller items do not get inspected."
Town employees will have a choice of maintaining a four-day workweek, such as Monday-Thursday or Tuesday-Friday schedules, Judy said. He added about a half-dozen employees expressed support for maintaining the four-days-a-week schedule.
"I think everybody likes (the current schedule)," said one employee, who asked to remain anonymous. "It is just the fact that you have three days off."
Another employee, who also did not want her name to be used, said she likes having Friday off as well.
"We have less people call in sick," she said. "The customers are all used to it."
Reed, the human resources director, said, "We are encouraging supervisors to work with staff to determine what schedules best meet their needs."
The town currently has 180 employees, and management is not budgeting for increases in staff, Reed said. The town had about 200 employees when the four-day workweek went into effect.