Beginning in August, Utah state employees will begin workweeks of Monday-Thursday 7am-6pm, instead of 8am-5pm, and have Fridays off. The radical new move will result in some frustration for some finding new daycare arangements and such, but will save millions of dollars in energy costs and will reduce traffic congestion.
The order issued by Gov. Jon Huntsman will affect about 17,000 out of 24,000 executive-branch employees. It will not cover state police officers, prison guards or employees of the courts or Utah’s public universities. Also, state-run liquor stores will stay open on Fridays.
Lisa Roskelley, the Governor’s spokesperson, says turning off the lights, heat and air conditioning on Fridays in 1,000 of 3,000 government buildings will save about $3 million a year from a state budget of $11 Million.
That is huge.
The Department of Environmental Quality estimated employees in six buildings alone will save themselves more than $300,000 spent on gas to commute to work.
There are benefits for the environment as well. “We feel like we can reduce the CO2 or the ozone by around over 3,000 metric tons, as well as have an impact on our air pollution,” said Kim Hood, executive director of the Department of Administrative Services.
In addition, having 17,000-24,000 people each day changing their commute times and not commuting on Friday’s will reduce traffic congestion (although Salt lake City is already the second-best commute and has the lowest rate of alcohol-related fatalities in the nation), and, by extension, traffic accidents during commute times.
This is a bold move that shows true leadership from the Governor who already enjoys approval ratings of 88 percent.
See Governor interview transcript from Fox News.