Wednesday Nov 07 2012
Rocklin offices now open on Fridays
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald correspondent
City ends recessionary closures; mandatory days off still in effect
The “closed on Fridays” sign posted outside the Rocklin City Administration Building is finally down. The city of Rocklin is now open for business on Fridays along with the rest of the business week. The announcement came from the city’s new public affairs and economic growth manager, Karen Garner.
“In an effort to enhance public services, city staff has continuously evaluated if reinstating public hours on Fridays could be implemented without negatively affecting the delivery of city programs and services,” Garner said.
Most city offices will now be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Since July 2009, the recessionary measure has at times frustrated citizens who may have spotted city workers through the window of a locked door working on city business but unavailable to the public.
Last month, the city released an internal email from Rocklin Director of Public Services Rick Forstall regarding the Parks and Recreation Department’s staffing issues related to Friday closures.
In the July 28 email, Forstall complained to City Manager Rick Horst that recreation staff was abusing time off.
“Closing Fridays (to the public) was supposed to aid staff who were doing more as a result of staff reductions so they could get caught up on their work,” he wrote. “Recreation does not do this; instead they are scheduling their week so they have Fridays off, this is done by them working four 10-hour days or scheduling time off.”
Garner said the Parks and Recreation situation did not play a part in the decision.
“Due to a variety of factors, including cost savings, stabilized sales tax revenue and staffing adjustments, it was determined that reinstatement of public hours on Fridays is now possible,” she said.
What could be an issue going forward is that the city will still be closed one day a month for the staff’s mandatory time off, commonly referred to as furloughs. The recessionary measure now starting its fourth year requires a portion of the non-police and fire workforce to take unpaid time off.
Those employees take 13 days a year off, or once a month, with two days off in April. The result is one paycheck each month is smaller. The furloughs have saved the city $884,000 since 2011. It’s unclear how much it will actually cost to open on Fridays for full service.
Rocklin citizen Jill Fellows, concerned about any potential expense by the reopening, said citizens could probably get by.
“I would think that only a couple people manning phones would be sufficient to keep up city efficiency as far as access to the city by the residents on Fridays,” she said. “Messages could be taken and dispersed to proper departments for priority responses Monday mornings.”
Fellows admits she’s gotten used to Friday closures and has had success sending emails to city staff, and has also made phone inquiries with effective results.
Some needs, like those of Community Development services, may not be efficient over the phone, including development applications, building and grading permits, business licenses, payment of animal control fines and subpoena deposits.
Citizens not wanting to be caught off guard by a furlough day can check the city’s monthly MTO schedule at www.rocklin.ca.us, click on “calendar” and look for the label “furlough” on a calendar day.