New operating hours to begin July 1

Correction:  The closing time at the Recycling Center on Saturdays is 5:00 p.m.

At the Town Council meeting Monday, May 8, 2023, Town Manager Matthew Sturgis announced new department hours and a shift to a four-day work week for Town Hall, Recycling Center and Public Works Department beginning July 1, 2023. 

Town Hall will be open on Mondays from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Tuesdays through Thursdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and closed on Fridays.  This will include the Town Clerk's Office, Tax Office, Finance, Assessing, Code Enforcement, Planning Department, and the manager.

The hours of operations for Public Works will be changing to Monday through Thursday 6:30 AM to 4:30 PM and closed on Fridays and weekends. The Recycling Center’s operating hours will also change and will be open on Tuesdays from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and on Wednesdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., closed on Thursdays as it is now, and then open on Fridays and Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The change was presented to the Town Council in workshop sessions and was recommended that the council ratify the change by consensus.  A Memo from Sturgis explains the process and rationale with which this change was made:

Proposed changes to operating hours for Town Hall, Public Works, and Recycling

What is being proposed?

During the pandemic and coming out of the pandemic, many organizations, businesses, and other employers have reviewed and reevaluated operations: how employees work, and what alternatives exist to the traditional employment models. Remote working (working from home), virtual meetings, longer in person days and four day work weeks have grown as employment models evolving during this time. Many employers have found these alternative models to result in improved productivity, improved employee satisfaction, successful employee retention and recruiting tools, and savings in operations cost and employee expenses.

Over the first quarter of 2023, the manager and staff evaluated the concept of a four-day work schedule. We surveyed multiple communities employing such a schedule, evaluating if making such a change would benefit our organization. After carefully considering, the recommendation by management is to change to a four-day work schedule, with extended hours from the current schedule.

Which Departments, what days, and what hours are changing?

The hours of operation for the Town Hall will be changing to four days, effective July 1, 2023. Town Hall will now be open Monday from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm, and Tuesday through Thursday, 7:30 am to 4:30 pm, and closed on Fridays and weekends. This will include the Town Clerk, Tax Office, Finance, Assessing, Code Enforcement, Planning, and the Town Manager.

The hours of operation for the Town’s Public Works Department will also be changing to Monday through Thursday, 6:30 am to 4:30 pm, and closed on Fridays and weekends.

The Recycling Facility operating hours will also change, and be open Tuesday from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm (8:00 am employee start), Wednesday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, closed on Thursday, and then open on Friday and Saturday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. The seasonal special hours will continue on the current schedule. This change will eliminate the confusion over if Monday holidays result in the occasional Tuesday opening.

What are the current demands for services?

Historically, the demand for services at Town Hall are greatest in the early morning hours, while demand for services are less later in the day, however maintaining the late close on Monday and adding the additional 30 minutes Tuesday through Thursday should assist in meeting the later demand.

What alternative options for service exist?

Over the past few years, operations have found an increase in online services, which remain available 24 hours a day. Online services are available for property tax payments, auto registrations, boat registrations, hunting and fishing licenses, and dog licenses. Additionally, building, plumbing, electrical, and other related code enforcement permits are also available online, which have increased access to those outside of our normal operating hours.

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What happens if public works services are needed on a Friday?

In the event of inclement weather or some other need for Public Works to respond on a Friday, the team would respond in the same manner as it currently responds on a weekend day, with no change in service level experienced.

Why are open hours changing?

This schedule change is an effort to improve our ability to retain and recruit employees, extend our normal hours between Tuesday and Thursday by 30 minutes per day, and reduce cost of utilities and maintenance by closing on Fridays.

What other towns and cities have this schedule?

Four-day work weeks and similar operating hours are currently in use in Yarmouth, Cumberland, Falmouth, Freeport, Windham, Scarborough, Biddeford, Standish, North Yarmouth, New Gloucester, and a number of other communities in southern Maine, with many having such a schedule since 2007.

What are the anticipated benefits from this change?

We anticipate the changes will improve the ability to retain and recruit employees by making us competitive with other communities currently offering similar schedules, reduced travel expenses by one day for employees not living in town, reduced employee expenses for childcare or elder care, while increasing productivity and improving work / life balance for employees.

The expanded hours for Public Works will enable an earlier start and later finish which will allow for the maintenance of the school grounds on hours that are less impactful on instruction hours during school days.

The change in operating days for the Recycling Center will significantly improve our ability to retain and attract employees. The current schedule does not have two consecutive days off, which prospective employees do not like and historically this has resulted in turnover in the department. Additionally, the schedule is chaotic on weeks when there is a Monday holiday, which results in being open occasionally on a Tuesday, and residents being unsure if the facility is open. Making the change to being open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday provides a consistent schedule that residents can rely on.

Are there any changes to other Town operations, like the Library and Community Services?

No other changes are proposed. Operating hours for the Thomas Memorial Library, Community Services, and the Donald L. Richards Pool and Fitness Center will remain unchanged. The schedules for each of these departments were reviewed and adjusted in 2020 to meet their demand for services.

How will the news of these changes be shared?

In advance of the change in hours of operations, the plan to share the news of the coming change will be multi-faceted. First, we will publish a notice of the change on the Town website, along with a frequently asked question section. Additionally, we will provide notice through the Cape Courier, which we envision will reach community members who are not online. Finally, we will post the change in hours at Town Hall’s front doors and use the Town’s electronic message boards in both the Town Center and at the Recycling Center for the month preceding the change in hours.

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