Mayor, city council could have better communication on holiday

Published 10:05 pm Thursday, June 29, 2017

After a contentious debate by Selma City Council members at Tuesday’s council meeting, Selma city employees will be reporting to work Monday, July 3.

The council discussed granting Monday as an additional paid holiday, but a motion to do that failed after a 4-4 vote.

While we certainly agree our municipality’s employees are hard working, good people, most of the tax-paying businesses that rely on services the city of Selma provides will be open July 3, working hard to make ends meet and pay their taxes.

Email newsletter signup

Why should the city’s schedule be any different? Everyone loves paid time off, but taxpayers and the businesses they operate or work for ultimately pay city employees’ salaries.

It should also be pointed out city employees already have the benefit of 11 paid holidays a year, which is many more than most businesses can afford to grant their employees.

It’s not unreasonable to expect city employees to work Monday, especially when there is so much work to be done in public works with grass cutting and trash pickup, and given the overtime costs for the police and fire departments.

However, whether we agree with it or not, if the city council decides it wants to grant another paid day off, it has the power to do so.

But it shouldn’t happen the way things went down Tuesday.

Mayor Darrio Melton had already told city employees they would be working Monday. That may be because July 3 isn’t a holiday in the city’s policies and procedures manual.

Six days before a holiday is a little late to bring up the idea of whether to grant city employees a 12th paid holiday.

The country has celebrated Independence Day as a paid holiday since Congress declared it one in 1938, so it’s not like the Fourth of July snuck up on anyone.

The public debate ended up giving the appearance of pitting some city council members against the mayor, the mayor against city employees, and even council members against city employees.

That’s a shame, and all could have been avoided by either following the 11 holidays outlined in the city’s policies and procedures manual, or by getting out a calendar weeks, or even months, ago and deciding whether any additional days would be granted.

Then the mayor, the council, and every city employee would have been on the same page, whether they liked the holiday schedule or not.

Pretend the city is a private business. Could you imagine the owner and manager of a restaurant having an argument in front of all their employees about whether to close Monday or not. That’s what Tuesday’s meeting amounted to, and it was embarrassing for our city and its leadership.

It’s hard to believe the mayor and every city council member doesn’t support all city employees. It’s not fair to portray some as “bad guys” especially when decisions that could have been made long ago were pushed off until the last minute.

And yes, we know Gov. Kay Ivy recently granted state employees Monday as a paid holiday. We don’t agree with that, either.