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Chiefland ponders four-day work week

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By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

Outside workers for the city of Chiefland will be able to go to a four-day week, but city hall workers may not get the same schedule.

The city commission in its regular meeting on Monday evening decided to allow City Manager Grady Hartzog to put outside workers - such as public works - on a four, 10-hour day schedule, but balked at closing city hall on Fridays.

Hartzog also proposed expanding the ways residents can pay their bills when city hall is closed by taking online and telephone payments using credit or debit cards.

"I just think that departments that interact with the public need to be here Monday through Friday," Mayor Teal Pomeroy said. "I like being open to the public."

Pomeroy said, "Even though Friday is slow, it's not very good customer relations. You should be able to pay your bill Monday to Friday."

Hartzog's proposal called for changing city hall operating hours from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday to 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

"Some of these days they will be going to work in the dark," said Commissioner Rollin Hudson. He asked Hartzog if he had polled employees on the idea.

"The majority like the idea," Hartzog said. He also cited an online poll from the Chiefland Citizen that showed the majority of respondents approving of the four-day week.

Vice Mayor Teresa Barron voiced concern about utility cutoffs not being done late in the week, but Hartzog said the cutoffs would be done at the beginning of the week.

"We can still have people on call because it will be hard to cut people off and we don't have someone here to cut them back on."

Hartzog said the longer hours would allow residents to stop by city hall on their way to or from work, rather than having to take time off from work, and would allow city employees to schedule doctor appointments on their weekday off rather than having to take time off and having to rearrange schedules to cover for absent workers.

In an earlier presentation Hatrzog said the city could realize an estimated savings of $9,731.04 in gas and $1,475.04 in utilities in the next year. He noted that closing city hall for one day per week would save $1,100 a year on the utility bill. "The biggest consumption of electricity is city hall," Hartzog said.

Bill Hammond, city building/planning department director, said he likes the five-day week because during hunting season he gets off in time to make it to his deer stand for evening hunting.

However, he said because his building is wired in two sections he could maintain a five-day schedule while going to four day work weeks for his staff. He said some employees could work Monday through Thursday while others could work Tuesday through Friday.

"Friday is our most slack day," he said. "We can shut half the building down and keep the other half running. We can go to four 10-hour days for personnel and be open five days a week. And we can still cut back expenses."