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July 6, 2015

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Goodman: Four-day work week won’t disrupt city services on Fridays

Mayor: New pact with employees union won’t mean offices are completely closed

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Oscar Goodman

When most Las Vegas city employees go to a four-day work week in January, you won't just get a recording on Fridays saying that city offices are closed.

If you, for example, need a building permit or have a question, your calls will be answered by a live person. And kiosks will be set up in City Hall to help people electronically continue to do business on Fridays, says Mayor Oscar Goodman.

Police, fire protection, parks and recreation, and municipal courts will also continue to operate on their current schedules.

"I don't think anybody's going to be debilitated by this," the mayor told reporters today at his weekly press conference at City Hall.

The four-day schedule at City Hall is part of an agreement the city worked out this week with its largest employees union, which represents about 1,500 workers whose jobs range from engineers to office clerks.

The Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved changes made in its contract with the Las Vegas City Employees Association, which amount to major concessions from the city's largest employees' union, but a savings of about $22 million to the city's budget for the next two years.

The concessions are part of the city's efforts to deal with a $47 million budget deficit projected for the next two years.

One of those concessions is that employees will be paid for a 38-hour week, rather than a 40-hour work week as a cost-cutting measure for the city.

Under the agreement, most employees will work 9.5 hours, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, then take Fridays off.

Goodman said the city's municipal court clerks, who will work on Fridays, will be trained to respond. And parks and recreation department employees who are also working Fridays will be trained to take incoming calls, he said.

The public will still be able to call, ask questions or conduct business at an electronic kiosk or on the city's website.

"If they have any business they want to do, any inquiries they want to make, there will be live people — not like some other jurisdictions that have a voice tape — able to answer their questions and to direct them to appropriate places," Goodman said.

Salaried employees, including administrators, will also help field calls on Fridays as part of the effort to cut the city's budget without resorting to massive layoffs.

When he first learned of the negotiated agreement, Goodman wanted assurances that the public would still be able to do business with the city on Fridays.

Friday was picked because it traditionally has been a light day for people seeking services, while Mondays are the heaviest days, according to City Manager Betsy Fretwell.

"The good news is this: unilaterally, the city can return to the 40-hour work week. That's part of the agreement," Goodman said. "... I like a five day work week myself. I work seven. So I would like everybody to work at least five."

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