While holding a utility bill in her hand, Stella Rodriguez walked toward the Lodi Finance Department before she noticed a bright yellow sign on the door. Stopping in front of the door, she asked, "Is it closed?"
Rodriguez is one of seven people who went to the finance building to pay bills during a 20-minute period on Friday afternoon.
With city offices locked and workers off during the first city furlough, residents had to either put payments in the drop slot or simply leave and wait to return Monday.
"I feel sorry for people who work here because if you are not working 40 hours a week, it's tough," Rodriguez said.
The Lodi City Council has already approved another three furlough days - April 24, May 29 and June 26. The council's next yearly budget starts in July, and council members have indicated they will consider extending the furloughs.
City staff has been preparing for the furloughs in advance to cause as little disruption in services as possible, Parks Superintendent Steve Dutra said.
"Hopefully, the employees are getting some rest and relaxation going into the busy season," Dutra said.
Personally, Dutra said, he was using the day to work in his small vineyard and visit two family members in the hospital.
For management analyst Janet Hamilton, it was a day to get things done around the house.
"It's a good day to catch up on things that need to be done, like running errands and picking up dog food," Hamilton said.
With the sound of voices in the background as she spoke on the phone, Deputy City Attorney Janice Magdich said she was enjoying her day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium with her husband and 5-year-old twins. And that was just the beginning of a weekend spent at the beach.
City Attorney Steve Schwabauer also took the opportunity to hang out with his children at home. He said that in the morning he also enjoyed the weather during a bike ride.
Furloughs at a glance
- Other furlough days: April 24, May 29 and June 26
- What is still open: Emergency services and Hutchins Street
Square, including the pool
- What is closed: Finance Department, City Hall, Lodi Public
Library, Parks and Recreation, the Lodi Animal Shelter, code
enforcement, police records and property divisions.
- City savings through the furloughs: At least
- Variations: Firefighters are doing staggered furloughs so as
not to disrupt service. Police officers are not doing furloughs,
but instead are taking other cuts. The maintenance and operations
union also voted to take an extra two-day furlough instead of no
longer having the city match the employees' retirement plan.
And Lodi Utilities Director George Morrow said he was spending most of the day driving back from a California Municipal Utilities Association meeting in Southern California,
"I'll stop off in Pasadena to remember the old country," he said in reference to where he worked from 1988 to 1994.
And while the city's employees tried to keep themselves busy, Angelo's employee Jesus Rivera wondered if the furlough day was one of the reasons the restaurant was slow.
"Usually, we have this whole section full," he said pointing to about 10 empty tables at the front of the School Street restaurant.