Town switches to four-day work week in the new year

By Mark Lineberger

The Camp Verde Journal of Camp Verde, Arizona

Camp Verde town employees will be switching to a four-day workweek starting in the new year, with the exception of law enforcement.

The Town Council voted unanimously to give the new arrangement a try in an effort to save money. Similar measures have already been taken by other Verde Valley communities, like Clarkdale, and municipalities across the state.

The purse strings are already pulled tight. With the economy and state budget decisions looming that could potentially snap those strings in half, town leaders are looking wherever they can to find a place to save a buck.

The idea behind the four-day workweek, which still keeps employees working at least 40 hours a week, is the town will save money on energy costs by not being open on Fridays. Scannell said an energy analysis shows the town could save around $8,000 a year.

Under the new arrangement, most town offices will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Special arrangements have been made with the Camp Verde Library after consulting Director Gerry Laurito. The library will be open to the public Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

All normal holiday closures will remain the same.

"The [four days/10 hour] model workweek is being enforced by towns across the state of Arizona and indeed across the country," Town Manager Michael Scannell said. Other towns have gone farther, Scannell said, pointing out that Clarkdale employees work four days a week but only nine hours a day. Scannell said he couldn't support a similar arrangement in Camp Verde because of the impact it would have on town employees.

"A 10-percent reduction in pay is a very bitter, bitter pill to swallow," Scannell said.

After looking at the volume of business in town offices during a given week, Scannell said Friday usually sees the lightest workload.

"I'm not going to strike up the band with these savings," Scannell said, but added that the proposal could have additional savings for the town as well as benefits for town residents.

For town employees, having Fridays off will let them take care of personal matters at the end of the week instead of having to take a personal day to do so. For some members of the public, having an extra hour in the morning and evening may make it easier for residents to take care of business with the town, Scannell said, at least Monday through Thursday.

The council considered closing offices at 5:30 p.m. and giving employees only a half-hour for lunch, but decided to let the standard one-hour lunch stand because none of the elected officials were comfortable making such a decision without more input from town employees. There were also concerns that a shorter lunch break could possibly take business away from local restaurants if employees feel like they don't have time to eat om if they wish.

"I'm sensitive to the fact that we are here to serve the community," Scannell said. "But [local governments] are looking at things now that they never would have considered, because they have to."

Councilwoman Jackie Baker said she had been opposed to a four-day workweek in the past, but ended up supporting this proposal because times were indeed tough.

The council voted 6-0 to approve the new hours. Councilwoman Robin Whatley was unable to attend the meeting, but sent word ahead of time that she was inclined to oppose altering the town's workweek.

Mayor Bob Burnside said there was still a lot of work to do in the area of energy savings. Burnside said he calculated that the town was spending $261 a day to keep the lights and utilities running at town offices.

"I want to see that cut 25 percent immediately," Burnside said.

Mark Lineberger can be reached at 567-3341 or e-mail

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