Laguna City Hall schedule to remain the same for at least the next 12 months

Laguna Beach City Hall's schedule of being closed every other Friday since late March will continue for at least the next year after the City Council on Tuesday extended what had been a trial program for a 9/80 workweek.

In this scenario, employees work eight, nine-hour days and one eight-hour day over two weeks, equating to 80 hours.

Department heads reported positive feedback with the altered hours and many customers who work outside of town said extended hours make it easier to conduct business either before or after work, according to a city staff report.

A handful of residents, however, said it's inconvenient when City Hall is closed every other Friday.

"What we have is anecdotal evidence," resident Mike Morris said. "We don't have data. If we have not done a poll, ascertain who has been affected positively or negatively, I don't think it's the right way to make decisions for employees or residents."

Resident Judie Mancuso suggested the council consider other options, such as employees working staggered shifts while keeping City Hall open five days every week.

In Costa Mesa, employees began a 9/80 schedule this week. However, workers there will work staggered schedules to keep City Hall open and staffed Mondays through Fridays.

"In cities of this size, with the staff we have, the fear is true and real that if we were to cut out half of staff every other Friday we would not be able to service the people who are coming in," Laguna City Manager John Pietig said.

Pietig said 30 of 34 county cities employ 9/80 schedules, adding that Laguna had trouble attracting potential employees and keeping existing workers before the council last year approved the trial program.

Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Boyd commended the schedule thus far.

"I don't see that it has slowed us down," Boyd said. "People, the last few months, have gotten used to the fact. Employees are really happy. I think they work better."

Councilman Steve Dicterow agreed with Morris that having data is essential for determining whether this type of schedule should continue.

"I've been bothered by this," Dicterow said. "The purpose of City Hall is to be open for residents. I think it is problematic to be closed one day out of 10."

Dicterow directed staff to conduct customer-satisfaction surveys and analyze retention rates and report back to the council in a year.

If a holiday falls on a closed Friday, then eight hours will be deposited into an employee's vacation leave bank to avoid closing City Hall an additional day, the staff report said.

Customers who need to register for recreation classes and/or drop-off or pick up maps or other documents can do so at the Laguna Beach Community and Susi Q Center when City Hall is closed on Fridays.

Staff writer Luke Money contributed to this report.

bryce.alderton@latimes.com

Twitter: @AldertonBryce

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