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Shorter work week for city employees on table

By Staff | Sep 10, 2009

The Cape Coral City Council is flirting with the idea of a four-day work week for city employees in an effort to keep from tapping into reserve funds and to trim what has been an otherwise shocking millage rate for homeowners.
With the exception of sworn positions, as well as staff at city water and sewer plants, the as-yet-defined proposal would see the 40-hour work week reduced to 36 for all Cape departments.
Five-day work weeks would be reduced to four.
City staff would work four, 9-hour days, though it is not yet clear which day employees would have off. Discussion among council members and staff at a budget workshop Wednesday leaned toward Friday as the day off.
If council approves the proposal, city employees on all levels could lose 10 percent of their salaries and holiday pay could vanish.
It was not immediately clear how the changes would affect salaried employees or how the city’s agreements with the various unions would be affected.
The changes would take the proposed millage rate of 8.8241 down to 7.9827, according to city staff.
Councilmember Gloria Tate pointed out that the change to the millage rate would only save the average homeowner $32 for every $100,000 of taxable value.
With Cape property values still reeling, Tate suggested that shutting down the city for one day each week would not do much to help ailing homeowners.
“We’re impacting people’s lives and we’re only saving them $32 at home,” she said.
According to city staff, the proposed change would roughly shave another $3 million from the city’s budget, but future job loss is still a possibility.
City Manager Terry Stewart said that even if city council approves the 36-hour work week, city staffers would still lose jobs and positions would be eliminated.
“We need to find an equitable solution because there isn’t going to be an equal solution,” he said.
The 36-hour week was one of three options discussed Wednesday. A 32-hour week and 38-hour week were also submitted for city council’s approval, but the 36-hour week won out.
The next budget workshop is Monday at 4:30 p.m. in council chambers.