It would cost almost $700,000 to add Juneteenth as a paid city holiday, members of the City Council were told on Tuesday.
Shea Jefferson, of city Human Resources, said, “If the city were to add Juneteenth, the list of paid holidays increase to 12 and would cost approximately $693,000 annually. This amount anticipates loss of productivity, time and a half employees who may still have to work on the recognized holiday.”
She said the council the city has two options. The first option would be to make it an alternate day of observance. This would mean that employees could substitute Juneteenth for any of the other 11 paid holidays, and work the holiday they have substituted out. The second option would be to make it a full holiday.
“The first option would have no additional cost to the city, and we could strengthen our current policy with an alternate day of observance,” Ms. Jefferson said. “HR would work with legal and draft the appropriate form to do so.”
After this presentation, the various council members discussed how the city might go about implementing Juneteenth as a holiday. Councilman Darrin Ledford floated the idea of allowing the next group of city councilors to make a decision on what to do. A swath of the current council members might leave office within a year, and Juneteenth is set to fall on weekends for the next two years anyway.
“This holiday would be on a Saturday and a Sunday in the next two years” Councilman Ledford said. “Would we consider not making this decision, but rather letting a future council make this decision, since we’d be obligating them going forward.”
Councilwoman Carol Berz had economics on her mind when she wondered where the money for this holiday would come from.
“I love the system we have now, which gives people the freedom to choose the holidays that are important to them,” Ms. Berz said. “We’re not telling them what holidays they have to take, and it lets us be flexible and nimble. Our budget can hardly take a $600,000 or $700,000 hit when it’s a holiday that may not be the choice of everyone.
“I think that there are other issues, one of course being the raises people have spoken of. If we were to somehow choose that particular route of adding $700,000 to the budget, has anyone thought about where that money might come from?”
Beverly Moultrie, city HR director, told the council that technically the money set aside to pay the employees during a regular workday is the same money that the city uses to pay employees during holiday. Councilman Anthony Byrd then put to rest the idea that if there were fewer holidays, raises would be a possibility.
“It’s still safe to say that we still wouldn’t have an extra $7.6 million to spread out for raises, because that money would be used to pay employees because now they’d be at work.”
Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod has been an advocate for adding the holiday.