Goldsboro, N.C. — High energy prices mean big changes for some public employees in Wayne County. Several departments are switching to a four-day work week, beginning Monday.
County officials said they are hoping a shorter week will help the county's bottom line. Although many would love to work four days instead of five, not everyone is excited about the change.
Wayne County Manager Lee Smith said he has gotten mixed reviews from employees.
“This is not going to be easy for employees. It may not be easy for some of our customers,” he said.
Smith said some employees are concerned about their hours changing.
“We’ve had questions about daycare and childcare,” he said.
The change is a result of rising fuel costs. Although employees will still work a 40-hour week, workdays will be longer to accommodate for the extra day off.
The first phase begins Monday, and officials hope it will save up to 15 percent of utility costs while continuing to provide the same level of customer service. The cost cutting measure is estimated to save the country $300,000 to $500,000 a year in energy costs.
Not all departments and buildings will go to a four-day work week. The Wayne County Courthouse, sheriff's office, county administration building and animal control will continue to operate five days a week.
Those departments closed on Friday include the human resources department and social services. (See a complete list.)
Smith said closing the County Office Building, which houses the health and social services departments, should save a lot in energy costs.
The first phase of the plan will be in effect for a year, Smith said. The county said it hopes to implement a second phase of its utility savings plan later this year.
The community is split on the idea.
Wayne County resident Phil Kastner thinks the decision is a “great idea.”
“There are several companies here in Wayne County that do a four-day workweek,” Kastner said.
Aletra Jones, of Goldsboro, said she is not comfortable knowing the health department will be closed on Fridays.
“People do need the service Monday through Friday, you know… so I don’t think it’s fair at all for them to be closing,” Jones said.
Smith acknowledges the new hours will take some getting used to.
“This is not going to be without growing pains. We know that,” he said.