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County government gears up for extended holiday closures

By BRETT WILKISON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Many County of Sonoma government offices will be closed or reducing their hours over a two-week period around Christmas and New Years as part of an effort to trim county labor costs.

The closures and reduced hours will begin Dec. 23 and run through Jan. 2. All county offices will reopen with regular hours on Jan. 3.

Law enforcement, water delivery, transportation and some health services offices will not be affected by the holiday schedule.

Sixteen departments, including administrative and financial offices, will be closed for the entire period. About 15 offices, including the District Attorney, Clerk/Recorder, Public Defender and Emergency Services offices, will offer reduced hours, while eight offices will operate on regular schedules.

The change is in conjunction with the county’s mandatory time-off program. The unpaid furloughs are expected to save about $4 million in labor costs this fiscal year.

“County employees are taking 8 unpaid days off this fiscal year and the winter office closure reflects 5 of those days,” the county said in a statement on its website. “We appreciate your patience and understanding during the time that our office is closed.”

A similar effort was carried out last year and in 2003 and 1994.

CLICK HERE to see which county offices will reduce their hours or close over the holidays.





12 Responses to “County government gears up for extended holiday closures”

  1. Cotati station neighbor says:

    More definitive complete info about the MTO is here…and next year they’re already planning for another 40 hour furlough:
    http://hr.sonoma-county.org/content.aspx?sid=1024&id=1240

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  2. Steven says:

    I agree with Mike. Cut all the welfare programs and beef up the road dept. Fix the roads and improve the trails at the county parks. If needed, divert some of the savings to the law enforcement side if the welfare cuts create more crime. I would rather pay to lock up criminals than pay to keep them on the couch.

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  3. Mike says:

    If local government would have layed off the employees they could not afford the employees still working full time jobs would have come out ahead and the general complaining would been minimized. They could have trimmed some deadwood out in the process.

    Again, it is the liberal Councils and the Board of Supervisors trying to be all things to all people and failing miserably.

    Who comes out on the wrong end of the deal? The taxpayers who fund the whole mess. Office closures when they should be open, services reduced when they need to be maintained.

    These politicans never learn. Inconvience the public who pay the bills but keep “every public employee employed even if it is a part time job.”

    Local government in Sonoma County should be reviewing what programs, people and facilities are really necessary and make the decision to cut where necessary to balance the budget instead of fooling around at the margins. This economy unfortunately is not going to improve overnight.

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  4. cotati station neighbor says:

    yes, employees are prevented from taking vacation time during the period; additional they must take all the 64 hours of mandatory time off (which includes 3 extra days besides the Dec 23-Jan 2 period), before they can take other leaves.

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  5. Lyn Cramer says:

    Thanks TH for your informative post.

    Unfortunately, the politics of cutbacks seem to be that the sacrifice should be shared equally. Efficiency in city services, and their ranking in importance, are subordinate to never, ever admitting that some department funding and staffing needs to permanently change.

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  6. County worker says:

    Just to simplify the Mandatory Time Off. All wages are cut and for a period of 2 years. That cut in dollars is converted into time. That time is the MTO. 64 hours a year for most. Your MTO is a wage reduction that is spread out over 2 years. The county set a specific schedule for most employees as to when they will be off on MTO, around different holidays. Even though people are off on MTO, they get their paychecks, witht he pay cut included, just like the rest of their checks for the 2 year period.

    There is a savings for the majority of jobs in the county. For a few 24 hour operations like the jail, it breaks even, but at least the jail staff took the MTO as well, to share the pain. No one liked having their pay cut and still watching friends get layed off, but at least it was fewer friends losing their jobs. We could have said no to the MTO and lost more jobs.

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  7. Tom Haverford says:

    Lyn,

    sorry for all the sarcasm, but yes there are probably a lot of disgruntled workers out there. MTO doesn’t really do anything except prolong budget problems until later. I blame unions and the BOS for my paycheck getting smaller. We need to make the tough decisions and cut positions and trim the fat. I for one would be willing to risk my job. If it was found that my job wasn’t necessary or I wasn’t doing it efficiently, I wouldn’t want it!

    I know thats not what people want to hear (some coworkers included) but I’ve got an advanced degree and experience in private, the county is not all the same. some depts are much more nimble than others. I think we really do need to make the hard decisions and cut back some even if it does mean that some folks lose their jobs.

    And Lyn, I know that for some places it doesn’t save any money. I have a friend in the water dept and their going to lose almost 1M$ by shutting down, since they have to operate facilities 24hrs and run on OT if it rains or there is an emergency.Also since they are technically not county but a special dist they could have ignored MTO, but they were told to “share” the pain.

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  8. Lyn Cramer says:

    Thanks for clarifying the issue. In past years, it hasn’t always been the case, I can assure you, that employees weren’t able to use accumulated vacation or comp time to offset furlough days. The unnecessary sarcasm in the responses suggests all is not well with some public employees.

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  9. T says:

    Lyn,
    what part of UNPAID do you not unerstand

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  10. bear says:

    Hey, Lyn, why don’t you join a union that not only works every day, but gives back when times are hard?

    Times are hard because of 30 years of republican economic and foreign policy, and because the truly rich people are screwing you every day of the week.

    Let me assure you that UNION county employees are supporting you and the service demands of the impoverished right wing every day of the week.

    If we don’t work, we don’t get paid.

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  11. Grey Whitmore says:

    Really? A simple understanding of math, vacation time and the law will tell you that the savings are real.

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  12. Lyn Cramer says:

    County “gears up” for extended closures? It looks more like they’re gearing down.

    Has anyone checked to see if the savings are real. Are employees prevented from taking vacation time during this period?

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