The City of Sunnyside instituted new operating hours this week.
This past Monday marked the first day city operations in Sunnyside went to an extended-day format. Several city departments began implementing a 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. four-day per week work schedule. The different departments will not be open on Friday, including City Hall and the reception area at the Sunnyside Police Department.
Even though it is early in the week, Stockwell said he has already seen a number of people coming into City Hall after 5 p.m.
"(Tuesday night), there were several people who came in after 5 p.m.," said Stockwell.
Stockwell said he has also heard from several city employees that the new schedule is being received well.
"They (employees) feel like they have gotten more done," said Stockwell.
Stockwell expects the new operating schedule to work well for residents and city staff. He explained the longer operating hours under a four-day schedule should benefit the residents of Sunnyside immensely. He said people will not have to rush to get to City Hall at the end of their work day now if they have a bill or some other matter to address.
Under the new work schedule, City Hall will be closed on Fridays. Municipal Court services will also be closed that day, as well as the police department reception area. Stockwell said residents will still be able to come into the police department and utilize the phone in the entryway to get in contact with police personnel on Fridays, but the actual reception area will be closed.
The public works department already had in place a similar four-day work week, so no dramatic changes should be seen there. Stockwell said the operation of the fire department will be handled a bit differently. Due to the design of the fire department, the public will still be able to access staff members who are on call 24 hours a day. The only difference at the fire department will be with the administrative staff, which includes Chief Jim Stanton and the other battalion chiefs, who will not be working on Friday. Police Chief Ed Radder and Captain Phil Schenck, along with other administrative staff at the police department, will also have Fridays off.
Both the police and fire departments will continue to be staffed as they have been with regular personnel.
Yakima County will still be able to utilize the court facilities at the Law and Justice Center every last Friday of the month, said Stockwell.
Under the new work format, the public actually has access to city services two additional hours per week. The four-day schedule has staff working 10-1/2 hours each day, which gives the public access to city services two additional hours per week.
Stockwell is expecting overtime and comp time issues to become less of an issue in city operations under the new schedule.
Stockwell is also expecting city operations to continue to run smoothly under the new four-day schedule. Stockwell said the city has sent out notices to agencies it works with asking if the new schedule might create any problems. Stockwell said he received positive input back from the different agencies.
There will be times, however, when city staff members will have to come in on Fridays to work because of various issues. Stockwell said the hours worked on Friday by staff members will be compensated elsewhere during the work week.
As an example, Stockwell said the parks and recreation department staff will have to be creative sometimes with their registration schedule for events and hours worked outside the regular work week.
"It is all a matter of scheduling for them," said Stockwell.
Stockwell is optimistic about the new work schedule. He feels the residents of Sunnyside will find it works out in their best interest. Over the next six months, Stockwell said he will be keeping track of the foot traffic into the various city departments. Stockwell said he is also open to suggestions from the community.
"It is going to be based a lot on the input from the public," said Stockwell.
Stockwell said he is open to going back to the five-day work week if residents find the new schedule is not working for them.
. Mike Kantman can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or email him at email@example.com