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Town of Longboat changes operating hours for season

The new pilot program begins on Jan. 2 and will change most town department operating hours to adjust for traffic during peak season.

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In the new year, the town of Longboat Key is changing office hours among most town departments. 

To accommodate town employees that commute to and from the island, the town is implementing a pilot program beginning on Jan. 2 that will change the operating hours to 7:30 a.m. through 4 p.m. 

“There’s just a time of year when there’s more people than space on the road, and there’s just no way to make it better,” Town Manager Howard Tipton said. “So the suggestion was made to see if we could create an alternate office schedule during the season.”

According to a brief from Tipton, traffic congestion has remained the No. 1 complaint among residents and employees. About 97% of town employees live somewhere outside of Longboat Key, the brief said.

Right now, operating hours for most town departments are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. This pilot program will shift hours one hour earlier in hopes that this will reduce the number of town employees traveling during peak times. 

“So we’re not reducing service, we’re just adjusting service to an earlier time,” Tipton said.

Similarly adjusted hours are worked by barrier islands north of Longboat Key, such as Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach, according to Tipton.

The proposed dates for the pilot program are Jan. 2, 2024 through April 30, 2024. Town offices open back up on Jan. 2 after the holidays. 

The new operating hours will not affect Longboat Key Police Department and Longboat Key Fire Rescue Department.

Additionally, the majority of Public Works and Tennis Center employees will also continue current operating hours since many of those employees already begin work earlier in the day. 

In the past, the town has also allowed flexible schedules for non-public facing positions, such as an accountant, and will continue to do so this upcoming season. 

Another objective of the program is to allow earlier hours of access for residents to town departments without a reduction in service.

According to data obtained from the town, calls and walk-ins for these departments after 4 p.m. were limited in 2023. 

Walk-ins to town departments between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. ranged from one to four per month during this past season. Public Works received no walk-ins during that time, according to the brief from Phillips. 

Tipton also noted that the majority of walk-ins to the Planning, Zoning & Building Department occur in the mornings, when contractors want to get to work. 

“So this will actually benefit them,” Tipton said. 

A second possible component to this program is a ride-share van pool program organized by the Florida Department of Transportation. 

In order for this program to take off, there needs to be 4-15 employees working a similar schedule who live in the vicinity of one another. The FDOT will contribute $500 a month to the operating expenses of the vans, and riders will share the balance of costs. 

Tipton said the van program could be shared between employees in both town government roles and the private sector. For example, a van could be shared between town employees, Publix employees and resort staff. 

The employees would be the van drivers in this program, Tipton said. Whoever has the keys to the van at the end of the week would take it home for the weekend. 

Town staff are still in early discussions about the program to see if the town would be able to participate, but Tipton said he is going to begin prospecting for interested partners. 

“I don’t think there’s one solution that’s going to solve the problem,” Tipton said. “But it’s a hundred different things that we do that'll make things a bit more bearable.” 

To gauge the success of the operating hours pilot program, town staff will document all positive and negative feedback from customers, and will randomly ask customers for feedback on the adjusted times. Staff will also continue to monitor traffic patterns during peak times to see if there is a difference during the adjusted hours. 

Community members will be informed via signage on facility entrances, community newsletters and the town’s website. The town will also send email blasts to contractors and all utility and business tax receipt customers. 

After the first season of this pilot program, Tipton said all the feedback will be taken into consideration to see if the program will continue next year. 

“We’ll evaluate it, and we’ll see whether it had the intended impacts, and then we’ll decide if that’s something we want to do on an ongoing basis,” Tipton said. 



Carter Weinhofer

Carter Weinhofer is the Longboat Key news reporter for the Observer. Originally from a small town in Pennsylvania, he moved to St. Petersburg to attend Eckerd College until graduating in 2023. During his entire undergraduate career, he worked at the student newspaper, The Current, holding positions from science reporter to editor-in-chief.

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