|Date:||April 26, 2016|
It’s been nearly 10 years since Town Hall closed for business on Fridays, but all that’s about to change.
The Board of Selectmen this week unanimously voted to re-open Town Hall on Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon starting the week of July 5,.
The move to re-open on Fridays was prompted by several requests from residents, according to First Selectman Kurt Miller. Former Democratic First Selectman candidate Zani Imetovski, who unsuccessfully challenged Miller in last November’s election, had vowed to move Town Hall back to a five-day work week if elected.
After several weeks of discussions with union employees, Miller said the majority of them were “reasonably comfortable” with the additional work day.
The new schedule come July 1 will find Town Hall open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to noon Fridays. Employees will get an unpaid, 45-minute lunch break under the new schedule, as well as 4.2 hours of paid vacation time when a holiday falls on a Friday.
Town Hall is currently open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with employees getting a one-hour lunch break.
“The vast majority of employees seemed comfortable with the new schedule,” said Miller.
Back in 2006 under former First Selectman Robert Koskelowski, deep budget cuts forced the Board of Finance to close Town Hall, the Community Center and the public library one day a week in order to save on fuel and electricity costs. Town Hall and the Community Center had been closed on Fridays since July 2006.
Miller said the Community Center will also resume being open on Fridays.
An energy crisis back in the late 1970s forced the town to operate on a four-day work week, as well.
Local Attorney Fred Stanek addressed the selectmen at their April 5 meeting, strongly advocating for Town Hall to go back to being open on Fridays. As an attorney, Stanek had said it’s crucial for him and others to do business in the Town Clerk’s office, like conducting title searches.
Under the current schedule, with Town Hall closed on Fridays, anytime a holiday fell on a Friday, Town Hall would close on Thursdays. Stanek said that “causes a lot of issues for people,” not just attorneys, but title searchers, engineers and contractors, too.
“We need to use Town Hall, and if it’s a short week, I don’t think it should be made shorter due to a (Friday) holiday,” Stanek had said.
In addition to approving the new Friday schedule at Town Hall, the selectmen also approved a new townwide “floater” position. There is $38,000 budgeted for the position, where the individual would work not only in the First Selectman’s office, but also serve as a Town Hall receptionist and “float” to other departments, as needed. Miller said adding the position will enable Town Hall to resume the full, five-day schedule.