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Extended hours for DDES services as agency moves to four-day workweek

Summary

DDES to close on Fridays starting next month. King County residents will have more access to staff and services at the Department of Development and Environmental Services (DDES) under a new department work schedule to debut next month that will close the office one day each week but extend operating hours.

Story

Extended hours for DDES services as agency moves to four-day workweek
Department to close on Fridays starting next month

King County residents will have more access to staff and services at the Department of Development and Environmental Services (DDES) under a new department work schedule to debut next month that will close the office one day each week but extend operating hours.

Effective the week of December 15, 2008, all staff at DDES will move to a 10 hour-per-day, 4 days-per-week work schedule. The department, located at 900 Oakesdale Ave. SW in Renton, will be closed on Fridays.

This pilot project, proposed by King County Executive Ron Sims and supported by labor unions, is designed to increase efficiency in the government on multiple fronts, and also enhance customer service and employee satisfaction.

In random surveys, DDES permit customers expressed a desire for extended operating hours. Four 10-hour days will keep DDES open for business from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m., four days per week. This provides customers with an additional hour of access to DDES staff, Monday through Thursday. The DDES Permit Center will also extend the hours it provides free technical assistance. Under the new DDES operating hours, free technical assistance will be given to property owners and permit applicants from 7 a.m. until 9:30 a.m., M-Th, which is an additional two hours of service each week.

There are also clear environmental benefits to this new program. A Friday closure is one extra day per week that King County will not have to heat or cool the DDES building or use any significant amount of electricity, resulting in significant annual facility savings. This is also one day per week when DDES employees who drive will not have to use gasoline to commute to work, therefore reducing vehicle emissions in the region. On the other four days per week when the department is open, employees who drive to work will be commuting during off-peak periods (coming in earlier and staying later) and therefore will be using their vehicles more efficiently and helping to reduce traffic congestion.

“These tough economic times demand that all organizations pay even more attention to how money is spent,” said King County Executive Ron Sims. “Governments in particular have a special responsibility to spend taxpayer dollars as efficiently as possible. I am proud of this pilot program, which creates more convenient service hours for residents while maximizing every taxpayer dollar we spend on operations at DDES.”

DDES Director Stephanie Warden thanked unions for their willingness to negotiate the conditions of this pilot program, noting, “The unions representing DDES employees have not only guarded their members' interests, but have also helped us to ensure our service to the public is as effective and efficient as possible.”

Local 17 Business Representative Behnaz Nelson said, “While this considerable change in working conditions will certainly impact employees' lives, we have been successful in significantly minimizing those impacts. At the bargaining table, both sides displayed a genuine interest in making flexibility a priority. We sincerely hope that this program is a resounding success!”

Sam Anderson, Executive Officer of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties said, "From our perspective, there are pros and cons with the new work schedule. Ultimately, we understand what the county is trying to accomplish and appreciate the fact that they have kept us informed of the change. If problems develop, we feel confident the county will react to address them."

DDES is committed to quality customer service. The department already has an extensive Web site at www.kingcounty.gov/permits. However, if citizens have thoughts on additional online services DDES can provide to assist customers during our Friday closures, comments are welcomed. Please contact Paula Adams, Public Information and Records Officer, at 206-296-6682 or at paula.adams@kingcounty.gov.