BLOOMFIELD — Bloomfield city council approved moving to a four-day workweek at it's regular meeting in City Hall's council chambers Tuesday evening.
The change to a closed-on-Fridays schedule for most operations will begin in two weeks. The new schedule will be in place for a 12-month probationary period after which the city will review the change, primarily to see if it is saving money.
The new hours are seen as a morale booster for city employees as well as allowing residents to conduct city business before or after work without having to take time off. After the change goes into effect, the city will be open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., the same hours held by the San Juan County offices.
"We have gone over the pros and cons," said Teresa Brevik, the city's special projects manager.
Brevick cited Williston, N.D. — a small agricultural town that rapidly tripled in size after an oil boom 11 years ago — as evidence for the need to seek incentives like a shorter workweek to retain employees. Like Williston, Bloomfield is anticipating growing pains in the near future from a possible oil-and-gas boom. Officials said a shorter workweek would be one incentive the city could potentially afford to offer its 120 employees.
"(A shorter workweek) would cut down operational costs, improve employee morale and decrease sick-leave time taken," Brevick added.
The Department of Motor Vehicles, senior center, cultural center and aquatic center will keep their current schedules, which include operations on Fridays.
"Because if we're not there, they can go somewhere else to spend their money and get that service," said City Manager David Fuqua. "The rest of them, they have to come to the city, pay utilities at City Hall."
Mayor Pro-tem Curtis Lynch expressed some concerns.
"Are we providing the services we need to provide?" Lynch asked. "Because that's why we're here.
Lynch said city employees might not work their full shifts.
"By the time a few months go by, it's been my experience, they go back to the eight-hour day, so that's something we'll need to monitor," Lynch said. "If we can't get what we need done we'll have to go back."
Mayor Eckstein was asked how the change to a four-day workweek was going at the county.
"From what I hear, it's going well, aside from some kinks to work out," Eckstein said.
Donica Sharpe, the city's planning and zoning director, mentioned that she gets calls from Bloomfield residents on Fridays who are surprised she picked up the phone because nearby Aztec and the county currently operate on a four-day workweek.
"They're used to the state. They're closed everyday," Lynch joked. "Every time you call down there, you don't get anyone to talk to you."
Brevik said staff should give council a 6-month update followed by a formal review after a year.
The measure passed unanimously on a roll call vote. The new hours will go into effect May 5.
James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4631 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.