Montrose switches to 4-day week

MONTROSE — Today could be the last five-day workweek that many Montrose city employees ever work. Starting Monday, the city will begin a new, four-day work schedule in an attempt to streamline the city’s operations and save money.

Montrose will become the second-largest city in Colorado to convert to the four-day, 10-hour workweek, according to acting City Manager Scott Sellers. The new hours will be Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The pilot program will be in effect until the end of the year and, depending on public response, could become permanent after that.

In addition to saving the city money, Sellers said the change is designed to boost city employees’ morale, and allow citizens more flexible hours to engage with city departments.

Sellers said the city is not forced to move to the new schedule for budget savings. He said small fiscal energy and employee overtime savings will coincide with better face-to-face time between city staff and residents.

“All of our employees were surveyed, and 71 percent strongly agreed that this would be a good thing for the city and thought it would benefit the citizens of Montrose,” Sellers said.

After months of research and talking with city managers in Steamboat Springs and Westminster, Sellers said the Montrose City Council decided the change could make the city more efficient.

Steamboat Springs conducts a four-day, nine-hour workweek, and Westminster converted to a four-day, 10-hour schedule in August.

“They’ve had just fantastic reception,” Sellers said of Westminster’s experience.

Montrose expects to save $15,000 annually in energy costs with city buildings closed Fridays, Sellers said. That number is small because the city operates in extremely efficient buildings. The City of Montrose building, formerly the Elks building, is heated and cooled by a geothermal system, and Montrose City Hall is an Energy Star efficient building.

The city also expects to save money with reductions in employee overtime and fuel expenditures, although Sellers said the city hasn’t calculated those savings into workable numbers.

Sellers said the longer hours on the four days of operation should benefit residents. For example, people who commute to Grand Junction or Telluride can take advantage of the earlier start or later finish of the city workday.

Montrose residents Teri Watkins and Buck McGee said they support the change, provided city services don’t go away.

“It doesn’t really matter. If they’re putting in the same amount of work, if it can cut costs, I think it’s a great idea,” Watkins said.

The change will not affect all city departments. For instance, sanitation and recycling services will remain on their normal schedules.

Sellers, once employed with the city of Lehi, Utah, said employees there changed to a four-day work schedule with strong support from employees and residents.

Sellers said he has not received any negative feedback about the change. He said the city encourages residents to contact it and give feedback through the city’s website and comment boxes. For information, visit the website, http://www.cityofmontrose.org.


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