MAXTON — The town Board of Commissioners agreed Thursday to bring full-time town employees back to a 40-hour work week, but not before some questions were raised about how the 40-hour work week should be scheduled.
Employees have been working 36 hours the past three years, working nine hours each day Monday through Thursday with town offices being closed on Friday. The employee furloughs were put into effect as a cost-saving measure.
But beginning July 1, town workers will work nine-hour days Monday through Thursday, with town offices being opened four hours, from 8 a.m. to noon, on Fridays.
Some employees in some departments had worked Fridays, but the offices at the Town Hall were closed.
According to Myra Tyndall, the town’s finance director, the money to support lifting the furlough is coming from $150,000 the town is saving by no longer providing employees health insurance. The town has been paying about 80 percent of employee health insurance, she said.
Tyndall said that if the town continued to offer health insurance the cost would be going up 38 percent.
“A majority of the employees are finding they can buy health insurance at less cost on the exchange,” Tyndall said, referring to individual health plans that can be purchased through the Affordable Care Act.
Commissioner Emmett “Chip” Morton questioned if it might not be more efficient for the town to go to a five-day, eight-hour-a-day work week.
“For efficiency out of the dollar, I don’t see getting the amount of work done in half a day,” Morton said. “I question if the taxpayers of Maxton are getting their money’s worth.”
Angela Pitchford, the town’s interim manger, said that many town employees and department heads favor the four-hour Friday. Residents also have expressed an interest in seeing town offices open again for business, at least for a half day on Fridays, Pitchford said.
The board decided that it will lift the furlough on July 1 and implement the four-hour work day on Friday for all employees. The board will evaluate the plan in October.
During Thursday’s meeting, the commissioners finalized their proposed budget for the new fiscal year that begins on July 1. A public hearing on the budget, followed by the board’s consideration of adopting the budget, will be held on June 17, according to Tyndall.
Tyndall said after the meeting that the proposed General Fund is $1.59 million, up from the current year’s $1.45 million.
Tyndall said that the property tax rate will remain at 80 cents for each $100 of property value; there will be no increase in any fees, such as water and sewer; and no new positions are being created or eliminated.
Tyndall also said there are no major capital construction projects proposed in the budget “at this time.” “But we are trying to get a grant for a wastewater project,” she said.
The Water and Sewer Funds together total about $710,000, she said.
For the first time, all three funds have contingencies to cover emergency expenses, Tyndall said. The contingency for the General Fund is $25,000, the Water Fund contingency is $12,000, and the contingency for the Sewer Fund is $10,000.