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by Mark Cheffey
In an effort to balance concerns from the public with the wishes of street department, members of the Palmyra City Council voted last Thursday to allow the street employees to go to a four-day work week on a month-long trial basis.
The vote was unanimous for the trial four 10-hour work-day schedule during the month of June.
Street Commissioner Austin Dornberger brought the request before the council at its previous meeting, and it was tabled to allow council members to consider it.
Dornberger said his department would like to go to the four-day work week on a trial basis and if it worked well, to possibly go to it permanently but only during the summer months.
He said the benefits included allowing his crews to get some early morning work done prior to when traffic picks up and to provide a morale booster for current employees and an added incentive for prospective employees.
The council was generally open to the four-day work week, Monday through Thursday, although there were concerns about the availability of crew members on Friday in case of an emergency.
Dornberger said he and all of his employees live in Palmyra and are always ready to respond whenever needed.
Since the previous meeting, council members received some calls from citizens opposed to the proposal.
Concerns included the possibility of all the other city departments wanting to do the same and also for the lack of personnel at the street department facility on Friday.
“I don’t think they were complaints. They were more concerns,” said council member Brock Fahey.
Fahy brought up a scenario where a Friday might be the only day for crews to lay sidewalk due to the weather, and it having to wait because of the day off.
“If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. But, I’d like to at least try it before we shoot it down,” Dornberger said in wanting to give the proposal a try.
Mayor Rusty Adrian acknowledged citizen concerns, but also noted they may not be aware of the “entire magnitude” of an issue.
For example, it was noted during discussion that the BPW and police department would not be able to do a four-day work week, even if they wanted to.
Despite some citizen concerns, council member Patrick Barnes made a motion to try the four-day work week during the summer, but it died for lack of a second.
Council member Pam Behring made a motion to try it during June, Barns seconded it, and all members voting in favor.