This is the fourth year that city of Modesto and Stanislaus County offices have shut down between Christmas and New Year's as a money-saving strategy. While law enforcement and other emergency personnel are available, most other employees are off on unpaid furlough, resulting in significant savings. The employees have complained relatively little about the holiday furlough because they have more time to spend with their families.
Government offices have always closed on Christmas and New Year's Day, which are national holidays, and city and county offices usually have closed at noon or all day on Christmas Eve. The libraries and the Stanislaus Animal Services Agency have kept to these schedules. That's appropriate because they have a lot of customers, especially when school is out.
But other offices treasurer, elections, planning and so forth are not available for at least a week and a half. While there's no doubt that a few people have been inconvenienced, we wonder whether this practice should become permanent. It seems to be a way to reduce the cost of government in a manner that is relatively painless to the public.
If people do find these furloughs seriously disruptive and something that cannot be worked around, we hope they will let their elected representatives know. Otherwise, we suggest that this holiday closure period should continue even after economic conditions improve. It's a simple, albeit small, way to shrink the cost of government.