County could move to four days a week

Published 7:12 am Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mower County may become a pilot project to have county buildings open four days a week instead of five to save on heating and cooling costs and custodial expenses.

The Mower County Board of Commissioners decided to support Rep. Jeanne Poppe’s plans to introduce a bill for the pilot project for Mower County.

If buildings like the Mower County Government Center and the human services offices could be open extended hours four days a week, Mower County Coordinator Craig Oscarson estimates the county could save $50,000 to $75,000 a year.

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“It can have a positive budget impact for our utilities. … The other big benefit to the public is that the office hours would be open longer on the days that it is open,” Commissioner David Hillier said. “And it would allow people to come in and do courthouse business prior to going to their regular job, and it would it allow them to come in after a normal 5 p.m. quiting time.”

The county board has discussed such a move with legislators in the past; however, the county is mandated to be open regular business hours Monday through Friday.

Even if the bill passed in the legislature, the move is far from finalized. The bill stipulates the move would have to be done through an ordinance, meaning the board would need to host a public hearing before making the decision. And, the unions would need to provide letters supporting the decision.

“I think there’s several advantages to this,” Hillier said. “Like so many things we do, we start a process, and if at some point in time, we don’t like the process, we can stop it. But today we start it.”

“If we decide we don’t like the process, we can change it in the future,” he added.

The pilot project would expire in 2015, but if it’s successful, the board could ask for legislation to keep it going.

According to Mower County Coordinator Craig Oscarson, the court system could choose to stay at five days a week because the process likely wouldn’t be implemented until around the time the new Mower County Jail and Justice Center opens or after it opens.

“There’s a great many details to be worked out,” Hillier said.