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Sebastopol planning 4-day city hall work week

Sebastopol plans to balance its $5 million budget by placing city employees on a 36-hour work week, closing City Hall on Fridays and freezing pretty much everything else.

The proposed general fund budget retains the city's current staffing level of 44 employees, City Manager Jack Griffin said.

But city services will suffer, he said, with City Hall closed two additional Fridays a month and public works employees working fewer hours.

"I am happy we are not forced into a layoff scenario, but I would like to see our picture improve so we can make improvements within the city instead of just treading water," Griffin said.

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the budget at its meeting on Tuesday. The budget is scheduled to be adopted on June 27.

Griffin said that overall revenues remain flat, except for a slip in sales taxes during the last two quarters of the year. Sales taxes in other cities and regions are now increasing, a trend that troubles Griffin.

"That is a long-term concern of ours," Griffin said. "Is the trend of downward sales taxes going to continue? Have we arrived at the bottom of the recession later than other cities? If that trend continues, our problems become exacerbated."

Meanwhile, salaries, health care and pension costs continue to increase, Griffin said.

Overall, revenues are projected to be $5,005,700, compared to current budget revenues and expenditures of $5,124,262.

To reduce costs and bring the 2011-2012 budget into balance, the city is proposing to shorten the work week from 40 hours to 36 hours, saving $106,000. The plan is currently being negotiated with the city's employee unions, which represent 26 workers.

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