County 4-day week won’t do much good

Published 3:36 pm Wednesday, July 16, 2008

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At this point, it seems necessary to apologize for even mentioning it. So sorry, but the price of gasoline is the subject of yet another piece of writing.

Well, sort of. Gas prices affect almost everything in our economy, and the financial situations of our counties and municipalities are no different. Chilton County and the city of Clanton, for example, have to pay for the gas that fuels all those county- and city-owned cars. That is the main reason larger cities across the nation are adopting the four-day workweek.

Birmingham did so just last week. The revised business hours of city offices and services are expected to save commuters and the city money. City employees will now work 10 hours a day, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., for four days a week instead eight hours a day for five days a week.

While this may be a good idea for a city like Birmingham, the implementation of a four-day workweek in Clanton, or Chilton County, probably wouldn’t do much good.

The main advantage to the plan is it saves people one commute a week. If you’re driving from, say, Vestavia Hills to downtown Birmingham, that’s a pretty big deal. A four-day workweek just doesn’t seem to carry the same advantages for Clanton. City employees here are drawn from a much smaller area, and sitting in traffic is not a major concern.

Also, if you go by the Birmingham model, employees are still working the same number of hours each week. So, you’re not really going to save any money on wages, electricity or even gasoline while employees are on the clock because, theoretically, they’re still doing the same amount of work.

“We don’t anticipate it. We’re not a large city,” Clanton Mayor Billy Joe Driver told The Clanton Advertiser on July 9.

Still, with the way the economy is going, politicians are willing to try almost anything to save money.

“In the shape we’re in, I’d rather [adopt a four-day workweek] now and save some money than have to lay people off,” commissioner Joe Headley said at the commission’s last meeting.