Thurston County proposes 32-hour work week for the 2024 General Fund fiscal stability

Plan to provide incentives to employees under program by offering at least 20% pay raise


The Budget Office has announced its intention to implement a reduction in work hours for government employees, transitioning to a 32-hour workweek, to have fiscal stability for the 2024 General Fund.

The idea was taken from other counties that have implemented this type of work hours, such as San Juan in Washington, while some employees of the County have already raised the same suggestion to the County Manager.

“I think there's corollary benefits to the community and families and everything from this,” stated District 3 Commissioner Tye Menser. “Like it's not just about making our budget fit; there's always been a perception that it's hard on families and children that their parents are gone and will work,”

“We don't have a month off in America like they do in Europe, and we have a culture that's very work-oriented” Menser added, “So maybe it's time to shift that paradigm.”

According to Budget Manager Robin Campbell, they plan to provide incentives to employees under this program by offering at least a 20% pay raise.

“People can make use of that time to either have a better quality of life, do other work that brings in other income, or reduce their childcare costs,” suggested Menser.

The Budget Office thinks it might be too late to decide on this idea, but they also need approval from the union to proceed and establish a plan with this decision.

The Budget Office also proposed reducing the contribution to reserves, suspending or increasing the road levy shift, increasing road diversion, and reducing the general fund reserve to achieve fiscal stability.

Food services funding at detention facilities

According to the shortlisted proposals for the 2024-2025 Biennium Policy Request, one of the included items is an increase in the funding for contracts related to food services for detention facilities.

Based on the report from the Sheriff’s Office, funds are needed to address the rising expenses associated with food service contracts, primarily due to the cost increase resulting from the higher inmate population.

“What we hadn't heard about during the pandemic, apparently, was that the cost of the contract went up, and they were able to absorb it because the number of inmates went down. Well, now that the inmates are coming back, the contracts are going up, and they need additional funding,” said Campbell.

The recent request also covers the correction officers since they are included in the contract, contributing to the overall increase in contract costs.