How many days a week should Tooele County employees work?
It was a question in 2008 when the county went to a four-day workweek to save money, and it remains a question for the three candidates for county commission now — each of whom has a slightly different opinion.
Republican commission candidate Shawn Milne would like to see all county offices re-opened five days a week. However, he feels this could be accomplished with most employees remaining on a four-day work schedule.
“I think there is enough flexibility and ways of staggering schedules that we could cover most offices five days a week while letting county employees work four 10s, which I understand has been good for morale,” Milne said.
With many county residents working at federal installations that have a four-day schedule, the county should look at alternatives to being closed on Fridays, according to Milne.
“If the rationale of keeping the four-day week was due to significant energy savings, I’d want to see the dollar comparisons so that an accurate comparison could be had,” said Milne. “There’s been enough time go by for a reasonable comparison to be conducted to verify what kind of savings have been realized. If there have been savings, then that rationale for keeping the four-day workweek should be communicated to citizens to let them pick if they want the savings more than the five-day week or if they’d like the four-day week, but open on Friday and closed on Monday.”
George Young, Democratic candidate for county commissioner, said he would wait to hear from the public before considering any change to the county workweek.
“It is not an issue I have had anybody ask me about while I have been campaigning,” said Young. “I have worked four-day weeks and I know it can be a money-saver, but if I felt like there was a demand from the public for a return to the five-day week at the county, I would support the change. We should be supporting what the public wants. They are our customers.”
County commission chairwoman and write-in candidate Colleen Johnson supported the change to the four-day week in 2008 and still supports it.
“I think productivity is up with the four-day week. Our employees get more done on the four-day schedule,” said Johnson. “It may not have saved us as much money as we had hoped, but it does save some money as we don’t have to heat the entire county building five days a week.”
Actual cost savings haven’t been quantified as utility prices change from year to year, Johnson said.
Many county agencies that serve the public are open on Friday, including the treasurer’s office for renewing motor vehicle licenses, the recorder’s office, the county landfill, Deseret Peak and the sheriff’s office.
“Although these office are open on Friday, with upgrades we have made to our building’s heating and cooling system, we don’t need to use these systems or other utilities in the offices that are closed,” said Johnson.
Tooele City and Grantsville City offices are open five days a week. Most counties bordering Tooele County are also open five days a week, including Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Box Elder and Utah counties. Juab County offices are open four days a week.
Tooele County went to the four-day workweek in October 2008 to save money following the state’s decision to go to a shorter workweek earlier that year. When the state returned to a five-day workweek in 2011, Tooele County chose to keep the four-day workweek.
It took legislative action in 2011 to get the state back to a five-day week. The legislature passed a bill during its 2011 session requiring state agencies to operate nine hours a day Monday through Friday. Gov. Gary Herbert vetoed the bill, but the Legislature overrode that veto during a special session.