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Mower County considers four-day week

By Tim Ruzek

Post-Bulletin, Austin MN

Mower County leaders are considering the possibility of a four-day work week as a way to save money.

Board member David Hillier, who heads the county’s personnel committee, pitched the idea Tuesday to the full Mower County Board, noting that Winona County is considering a four-day week as a way to address its budget issues.

County employees still would work 40 hours a week, but those hours would be done in 10-hour shifts.

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A four-day week would create utility or energy savings as well as an increase in the length of the work day, Hillier said. Some county offices, for example, could be open an hour earlier and stay open until 6 p.m. or 7 p.m., he said, which could offer more convenient times for the county’s customers.

For Mower County, its main highway shop is in Austin, on the county’s western edge, Hillier said. A four-day week could save money by highway crews not having to make as many trips to a project’s site during the week, he said.

Other counties have done it specifically for departments, especially highway departments, Hillier said.

"It might be something worth looking at," he said.

Ray Tucker, a board member who heads the finance committee, voiced his support for looking at the idea.

Board chairman Richard Cummings noted some school districts have gone to a four-day week to save cash.

If the board decides to move forward, it would have to start talks with employee unions, Hillier said.

The county has been looking at a four-day week for more than a month, said Craig Oscarson, county coordinator.

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If the board wants to explore the issue more, he said, it will need to address several related issues, such as union contracts and which buildings would be closed on the fifth day.

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