County offices previously closed on Fridays open again tomorrow

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Beginning tomorrow -- for the first time in almost four years -- Riverside County government offices that were closed on Friday will be open.

The Board of Supervisors last month voted unanimously to end the Friday closures in the interest of public service.

``Taxpayers should have access to their government on Fridays,'' said Supervisor Kevin Jeffries, a leading proponent of the schedule change.

Since Aug. 13, 2009, the County Administrative Center in downtown Riverside, as well as ``non-essential'' county offices in Hemet, Indio and Temecula have been closed every Friday. The board voted in favor of the weekly building shutdowns as part of a cost-saving plan that coincided with mandatory weekly furloughs of thousands of employees.

At the time, the county's budget was in the red and reserves were being rapidly depleted to meet payroll and cover other costs.

According to county officials, between September 2009 and August 2011, the closures netted $900,000 in savings to the general fund from lower utility outlays, while the furloughs reduced personnel expenditures by $73 million.

The board also voted last month to drop the 4/10 alternative work schedule as the county standard and instead adopt a 9/80 schedule.

Under the 4/10, employees generally work Monday to Thursday, putting in 10-hour days. The 9/80 schedule requires workers to be on the job nine hours a day per pay period until accruing 80 hours, at which point the worker is given an additional day off, usually every other Friday -- meaning many county staffers will still have two three-day weekends off every month.

According to Department of Human Resources chief Barbara Olivier, 36 percent of county employees are  on the 9/80 schedule; about a quarter are on the 4/10 schedule.

``The 4/10 has definitely affected our ability to serve residents,'' Supervisor Jeff Stone said during the board's June 18 meeting. ``People's social and health issues are 24/7. The 4/10 has been kind of a luxury. We serve at the pleasure of the taxpaying public.''

According to Olivier, departmental managers will have flexibility in determining if some employees continue to remain on 4/10 schedules, switch to 9/80 or log the more typical eight hours a day, five days per week.

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