City employees denied July 3 holiday

Published 9:38 pm Tuesday, June 27, 2017

City of Selma employees will be required to work Monday, July 3.

The city council discussed Tuesday whether to allow city employees a paid holiday the day before the Fourth of July.

A motion to grant July 3 as a paid holiday failed after a 4-4 vote. Council president Corey Bowie and members Angela Benjamin, Sam Randolph and Jannie Thomas voted for the holiday, while Carl Bowline, Miah Jackson, Michael Johnson and Johnny Leashore voted to have employees work Monday.

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Complicating the issue was the fact Mayor Darrio Melton had already told city employees that Monday would not be a holiday.

Ollie Davison, Melton’s chief of staff, told the council the mayor’s recommendation was that employees work. He said due to previous severe weather days, recent rain and mechanical issues that the public works department needed to work and trash needed to be picked up Monday.

Several council members took exception to the reasons Davison outlined.

“I think that’s a cop-out reason to try to not give the employees a day off,” Randolph said. “Those guys work hard, and they deserve to spend some time with their families.”

Davison questioned why Randolph said the decision to work Monday would be punishing city employees.

“You said punishing. I think you will be punishing the citizens if you don’t get to the grass and the trash,” Davison said. “We feel at this point everyone needs to come to work on the third. We don’t want to get behind any further than we already are.”

Randolph said if city employees had to work than the city could run a smaller staff and give time off based on seniority or those who volunteer to work for the extra pay.

“The grass is important. The trash is important, but let’s work a skeletal crew,” Randolph said.

Benjamin agreed that the employees deserved time off. She said city employees outside those in public safety haven’t had a raise in years and even have had to take pay cuts.

“These people at the bottom have always been at the bottom. Benefits, insurance and all those things don’t add up for them,” Benjamin said. “I think the least we can do is to give them a day. A day at home with their families.”

Davison said employees had been given the option to take a vacation day Monday.

Another factor is cost. The additional overtime for the Selma Police Department for a July 3 holiday would be approximately $4,500.

An exact amount of overtime for the Selma Fire Department wasn’t available, but Bowie estimated the department’s overtime would be an additional $2,500-$3,000.

Leashore said he would like to see employees have an extra day off, but July 3 is not an approved holiday in the city’s personnel manual and in the past any additional holidays approved by the council have been at the recommendation of the mayor.

“Whatever recommendation to my knowledge that has been forthcoming from the executive office for any extra days that aren’t subscribed in the policy, this council has been very generous,” Leashore said. “I can respect the executive office that is in charge of running the city on a day-to-day basis.”

Jackson questioned why a decision wasn’t made when the issue first appeared on the council agenda in May and said it wasn’t fair to pit the mayor against the council or council members against city employees.

“I think it is prudent and wise when we have decisions like this to be made that we don’t do it in a manner that exposes … another department. The situation should have been handled in a different manner,” Jackson said. “At this point, since it was on the agenda in May, it’s totally inappropriate.”