Less Is More

If you need to do business with the city of Las Vegas, be prepared to get there in person between Monday and Thursday, or do it online, because as of the week of Jan. 9, City Hall will be closed on Fridays.

The Las Vegas City Employees Association, the city’s largest union, agreed to a four-day, 38-hour workweek in October, among other concessions. The measure, combined with suspending raises for two years and concessions from the city’s other unions, is expected to reduce the budget shortfall by about $35 million. Which means Las Vegas is still looking at a $12 million budget gap, but it’s a start.

The short week only affects administrative personnel who work in City Hall, says city spokeswoman Diana Paul. Hours at essential departments such as fire, police, animal control, municipal court and sewage will not change.

“So many of the things we have done over the years made it so people don’t have to come downtown,” Paul says. “We’ve been pushing things online to make it easier to do business with the public seven days a week.”

Shortened workweeks are all the rage in government these days. Boulder City is on a four-day week, as is the entire Utah state government since 2008. Henderson has them all beat, however: It went to a 38-hour week in 1983 as the result of a recession, staggering workers to keep all departments open Monday through Friday. In 2009, in the grips of our latest recession, Henderson closed City Hall on Fridays while maintaining essential functions. The moves save about $5.5 million per year. “We get calls from cities around the nation about it,” says spokeswoman Kathy Blaha. “We’ve doing it for more than 20 years. Isn’t that crazy?”

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