County discusses 40-hour, four-day work weeks years ago

Short-term disability

may replace sick leave

Staff reporter

In trying to determine the 2009 county budget, Marion County Commission is considering options to cut costs and improve efficiency.

One option that was discussed at Monday's meeting was to expand some courthouse offices to a 40-hour work-week. Currently those offices work a 37.5-hour work-week. Most courthouse offices are open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Others are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. but those employees still work only a 7.5-hour day.

The appraiser's office has experienced a significant amount of overtime with a 7.5-hour work day. Commissioner Dan Holub wondered if expanding the appraiser's office hours 30 minutes per day would reduce compensatory time.

"I'd like to work toward the goal (of a 40-hour work-week) but not sure about doing it across the board because of the cost," Holub said.

If the county decides to expand office hours, employees will have to be compensated since their current pay is based on a 7.5-hour day.

It was noted that some departments already work 40-hour work-weeks including the largest county department, road and bridge (except office personnel).

"Looking at departments with comp time would be a good start," commissioner Randy Dallke said.

Another option would be for the county to provide short-term disability instead of one day of sick leave per month.

The county has to count accumulated sick leave as a liability in case a large number of employees with accumulated sick leave retire at the same time. Currently the county reimburses the employee for a percentage of that accumulated sick leave at retirement.

"The idea of short-term disability, if used properly, is determined for sickness, not just for another day off," Dallke said. "The benefit would be there for when sickness occurs."

Paid time off also is a consideration by the commission.

"We're way behind," Dallke said. "We need to have PTO. It's very generous of Marion County to have this policy and it needs to change."

With rising fuel prices, and no end in sight, a four-day work-week also is a consideration.

Holub asked assistant city clerk Tina Spencer if the clerk's office could close for one day.

Spencer responded that it would mainly be a concern for the treasurer's office because driver's licenses cannot be issued on Mondays due to a state requirement. She suggested if offices are closed one day it should be the same day to make it cost effective regarding utilities.

Commission chairman Bob Hein said Gove County had implemented a four-day, 10 hours per day work-week.

"It's something we need to look at," he said. Hein said he would contact a Gove County official for input.

The commission then decided a memorandum to all department heads would be sent regarding fuel consumption.

The memo asked the department supervisors to review fuel consumption and operate with less fuel. The commission also asked for feedback for ways to reduce consumption and justification for consumption.

Those who drive county vehicles to and from work also were asked to justify that practice.