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Chattooga Local Government

Chattooga Tax Commissioner discusses move to 4-day work week

We have received a lot of good feedback from citizens after beginning our new office hours! It will take some time for everyone to remember that we are closed on Wednesdays, but so far it is working out smoothly.

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What brought me to this decision?

While campaigning in 2016, I met dozens of citizens who said they’d like to see us open earlier or later than 8:30 – 5:00, as those are also the times that they have to be at work. Many have a long commute to work and hoped I could find a way for them to conduct their tag/tax business without taking leave time from work, especially since sometimes a title application can take more than one trip.

Employees in this office must arrive much earlier than our opening time to start things up and were staying after 5:00 many days to finish customers who come after work. During busy weeks, there were times I needed to pay overtime. I knew there had to be a better way than customers having to race to get here after work.

This office stays busy most of the time, but I really wanted to condense some of our time to replace “down time” with more productive time. January-April is busy with mobile homes and tax bill reminder letters, March-June is busy with new vehicle purchases, July-September is the time for getting the digest (tax bills in order), and October-December is extremely busy with property tax collections. The rest of the year has busy days off and on when tax sales are active.

When COVID came and stimulus checks went out, motor vehicle sales skyrocketed. During those busy times if even one employee is out, it’s obvious I need an additional employee, but this isn’t a job that you can train for and work “as needed”. You need to be here daily so you don’t miss new laws and the rapid changes that occur all year long. I wanted to increase hours to help our citizens, but I didn’t want to make them pay for it in an increased budget.

I polled other offices all over the state, ran an unofficial vote with customers in the office and on social media. I decided it would be better for our citizens to have four days of convenient hours than five days of the same inconvenient hours, and started a trial of this ten-hour, four-day schedule.

Why close on Wednesday and not Monday or Friday?

Several businesses in the county are closed on Mondays. I want to be available for those people on their off time. Vehicle sales happen most often on weekends, so I want to be available on Monday and Friday to process those titles. If someone misses us on Wednesday, we will be here the very next day. Of course, Monday or Friday would have been great for the office staff, but Wednesday is best for the citizens.

Also, I can still remember when many business shut down for a half or whole day on Wednesdays for church.

Are the new hours popular with citizens?

Yes! June and July are slow months, but I still noticed a difference. In those two months, we had 119 transactions before 8:30 am and 72 transactions after 5 pm. This is not counting phone calls or transactions that did not require monetary exchange. Many days we have people waiting for us when we arrive in the morning, and they’ve commented that they are happy to have their business done for the day before going to work.

Have you seen any difference within the office?

Again, yes! I looked at the sick time used by employees since 2017. Using the year with the least sick time taken, this year sick time used is down by 61%. Office staff is using Wednesdays for appointments, making the other four days more constructive with a full staff. If someone is out with an illness, emergency or vacation, it is much easier to cover four days than five.

What happens if my birthday is on a Wednesday and the office is closed?

Wednesdays are factored into the software to be treated like a weekend. Citizens have that day as a “grace day” if their tag is due on Wednesday.

Is anyone ever in the office on Wednesdays?

Not usually. I have taken advantage of a few Wednesdays to come work on the digest and tax bill numbers with no distractions. So far that’s my favorite part! I can do the most tedious work on Wednesdays and be more available and focused on citizens the other days.

Are employees paid for 40 hours?

Yes. 10 X 4 = 40. We open at 7:30, which means staff must be here by 7-7:15 to get the office up and running before then. We lock the door at 5:30, but employees still must finish all pending work, balance cashiering drawers for the day, and sometimes still have customers waiting on their title work. We don’t close for lunch and lunch breaks are shorter with the new schedule. My team arrives most mornings with a list of customers they were trying to help over the weekend or the night before via text, messenger, email or the website. When you love serving the public, it’s not hard to get in 40 hours. Thankfully, I have a whole team of people who love serving.

Anything else you’d like to add?

2022 tax bills are almost finished. I expect to have them available to pay in office by the first of September, and they should be in the mail stream by the end of September. I really want to get the word out regarding our new hours so that no one wastes a trip. We’ve had a lot of people move here in the last few years from other counties and other states so I started a Google business page for the Tax Commissioner’s office to help newcomers find us. It has given me good insight on what days/times are busiest and what people are looking for on our website. Since May, the page counted 1,040 visits to our website, 239 requests for directions, and 1,324 calls. Tax bills will have a reminder similar to the one on vehicle renewal notices about the new hours, but I do hope the community will help me spread the word while it is still someone new.

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