Employee emissions are a problem for the county



SLO County employees commute too much. According to a recent county study, county workers driving around create more than two thirds of all county government greenhouse gas emissions. The solution? Just don’t come to work.


To meet state mandates, county officials have recommended allowing some employees to telecommute. Another plan is to shift their work hours and reduce the days county employees must go to the office.


All California governments are required to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050, under the 2006 law AB 32.


The new optional work schedules would put some county employees on nine-hour days and give them every other Friday off. Another alternative would allow employees to work 10-hour days and have every Friday off. But the first alternative, dubbed 9x80, would require significant rule changes.


County Auditor Controller Gere
Sibbach said the 9x80 alternative conflicts with federal overtime laws. County officials would need to change the payroll and work week, which would require new county ordinances to accommodate the shift.


“It can be worked out,” Sibbach said.

“It’s just a little bit hairy.”


County administrators recently asked employees to take voluntary time off to help pull the county budget out of its multi-million dollar deficit. Asked whether the new schedules may be setting the stage for county furlough days, Kimberly Daniels, general manager of the San Luis Obispo County Employees’ Association, said union members had no qualms with the proposal.


“This is simply having a flexible work week,” Daniels said.


But why change work weeks and allow employees to work from home rather than set up carpools or other traditional gas-saving ideas? There are already multiple commuting services available, Sibbach said, and anything the county adds would likely have little effect.


Though the details haven’t been finalized, some county supervisors
worried how the public might be impacted by shutting down entire departments on some days.


“I think this program should have minimal impact to services to the public,” Supervisor Jim Patterson said when considering the proposal on Nov. 10.


In order to keep departments at least partly open, departments may stagger employees’ days off to ensure at least some will be working every regular work day.


Supervisors voted unanimously to put the option out to various county departments, but urged employees to take the 10-hour-day option over the 9x80.

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