Holiday-days, Plus Two

Published 2:32 pm Thursday, December 12, 2013

CUMBERLAND — They may not be receiving raises, but Cumberland County employees have been gifted with a little extra Christmas cheer this year. The board of supervisors voted to approve two additional days off during the upcoming holiday season.

County offices will be closed Monday through Wednesday, December 23 through 25, and Tuesday and Wednesday, December 31 and January 1. According to the County personnel policy, December 24 and 25 and January 1 are already designated as County holidays. The board voted to also designate two additional vacation days this year, December 23 and 31.

“I do think that it will be a morale builder,” said Supervisor Kevin Ingle, District Three. “I know that we haven’t been sending out bigger pay checks here for the last couple years, so hopefully that will be some indication that we do appreciate the service of the County employees.”

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When introducing the agenda item, County Administrator and Attorney Vivian Giles informed the board that the governor had recently granted Monday, December 23, as a holiday for the executive branch. Several surrounding localities are also giving December 31 as a holiday, Giles told the board. She requested the board give County employees both December 23 and 31 as days off.

“The 23rd is on a Monday and they are off on the 24th and the 25th,” Chairman David Meinhard, District Four, pointed out. He continued with a smile, “Does anybody expect them to come in on the 23rd and do anything if they are here?”

“Absolutely,” Giles said.

But, Meinhard ultimately moved to grant both days off.

Supervisor Bill Osl, District One, wondered what the impact to the County would be of granting another day off. He pointed out that most County staff are salaried and would not be receiving extra pay. The primary impact Osl believed could be from lost productivity.

But, Giles mentioned morale and Meinhard agreed that increased morale could lead to increased productivity.

When asked by Supervisor Lloyd Banks, District Two, how much leave employees receive, Giles told the board that, at minimum, county employees receive one day of leave a month and, at maximum, she believed, two days a month.

In addition to annual leave, the County’s Personnel Manual currently allows for 13 days of holiday leave on specific dates, such as Independence Day, Thanksgiving, the Friday following Thanksgiving and Christmas, if it falls during the work week.

According to Giles, there are less than five non-salaried employees that work for the County. Those employees will not be paid for any days they do not work.

Although no one spoke during public comment at the meeting, at least one citizen was visibly upset during the board’s discussion of the holiday motion, shaking her head and stating, “we’re a poor County.”

The motion passed with four supervisors voting in favor and Banks abstaining.

Following the meeting, when asked why he abstained, Banks stated that it was not due to a conflict of interest but because he was neither for nor against the motion.

Although Banks chose not to vote on the motion, in an email sent to The Herald Wednesday evening, he gave several reasons for why he was opposed: “I abstained last night on granting the additional holidays because several of my constituents have expressed concern with this in the past. They ask when are they going to get a holiday from the excessive tax rates?

“I also find it alarming that in lieu of proposing an annual holiday schedule with all of the desired days listed, there are recurring requests for additional days off. I wish I could give my taxpayers relief in the same fashion.

“My neighbor was one to two business days late on paying his tax bill while waiting on his monthly fixed income and he had to pay a late penalty. Sadly no one granted him a holiday.”

Cumberland transfer stations will be closed December 24, 25, 31 and January 1, but will remain open December 23.