Tom Smart, Deseret News
Department of Commerce official Francine Giani breaks the news to Charles Brown that the Heber Wells Building office is closed today because of Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s new four-day work week.

SOUTH SALT LAKE — Not everyone was ready today for the first Friday closures under Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s new four-day work week, especially at the Division of Motor Vehicles.

A steady stream of drivers pulled into the empty parking lot of the Salt Lake area office located at 380 W. 2880 South this morning, only to be greeted at the door by a neon closed sign and a poster advertising the governor's new "Working 4 Utah" program.

"I was so excited because no one was here," fumed Marisol Lopez of Salt Lake City, who had hoped to register her car on her day off because she works four 10-hour days for a nutritional supplement company.

"There's a lot of people who have Fridays off," Lopez said, adding she had not heard anything about the new schedule for state employees that started Aug. 4. "It's not fair because a lot of us will have to miss work now."

No doubt Elliot Christensen's teenage daughter will also think the Friday closures are unfair. Christensen, who lives in Sandy, had taken time off from his property management job in Salt Lake to register his daughter's first car today only to find the DMV office closed.

Christensen said he already was aware of the shortened work week for state employees, but didn't believe that would apply to vehicle registrations, one of the state's most popular services.

"I thought maybe the DMV would be made available to the public, that they'd make an exception," Christensen said. He said part of the problem is that the new four-day week "was kind of done in a hurried fashion."

Huntsman announced the new schedule for the executive branch in late June. Shutting down some 1,000 state buildings on Fridays — some only partially — is expected to save taxpayers an estimated $3 million annually in utility costs.

All but a handful of state services are now available only Monday through Thursday, from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m., although many of those services are available any time at the state's website, utah.gov. State courts and both public and higher education are not affected.

Earlier this week, Huntsman toured one the state agencies shut down today, the Department of Commerce, in part to publicize the longer hours available Mondays through Thursdays. Today, he was interviewed on CNN about the shorter work week.

"I don't know what more we could do," said Charlie Roberts, spokesman for the state Tax Commission, that includes the DMV. Roberts said he was "surprised as well as disappointed" to hear people showed up on Friday.

"Hopefully, people will adjust," Roberts said.


E-mail: lisa@desnews.com