SOUTH SALT LAKE Not everyone was ready 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 at 380 W. 2880 South Friday 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; 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 Monday. "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 Friday, only to find the DMV office closed.
Christensen said he already was aware of the shortened workweek for state employees but didn't believe that would apply to vehicle registrations, one of the state's most-usedr 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 Web site, utah.gov. State courts and both public and higher education are not affected.
Earlier this week, Huntsman toured the Department of Commerce in part to publicize the longer hours state services will be available to the public Mondays through Thursdays. Friday, he was interviewed on CNN about the shorter workweek.
Commerce Department officials took the unusual step of stationing themselves outside their closed offices Friday morning at the Heber M. Wells Building in downtown Salt Lake City. Armed with doughnuts, they were ready to calm any concerns caused by the Friday closures.
But that wasn't necessary for the handful of people who showed up Friday at the offices that handle everything from professional licenses for teachers, doctors and many others to corporate filings.
"We didn't have anyone get upset," said Jennifer Bolton, Commerce Department spokeswoman. "We were gratified there wasn't a line of 30 people. There was just a trickle between 8 and 10 a.m. They all left with a doughnut, a smile and a flier."
Few of the people at the DMV Friday morning, however, left smiling.
"I don't know what more we could do," said Charlie Roberts, spokesman for the state Tax Commission, which includes the DMV. Roberts said he was "surprised as well as disappointed" to hear people showed up at DMV offices on Friday.
He said the five Wasatch Front DMV offices had handled more than 640 customers over the first two days of the week during the extended hours of operation, between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. in the morning and 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. in evening.
E-mail: [email protected]