Commonwealth Journal

Local News

February 10, 2010

City employees to be off work for Presidents' Dayon Feb. 15

Council debates legality of suggested paid holiday

hether it is fair — and more questions concerning whether it is legal — but whatever the case may be, employees of the City of Somerset will be getting a day off this Monday.

Feb. 15 is Presidents’ Day, and, while some local businesses are closed on that day, the city’s offices typically remain open.

This year, however, council member Steve Kelley suggested that the employees be given a day off in appreciation of the hard work done by those who work in the city’s “outdoor departments” during the recent winter weather the area has experienced.

“I want to ask if we could spend a little (money) on our employees by giving them a day off on Presidents’ Day,” Kelley said during this week’s council meeting.

“It would be just a one-time deal. ... It’s been an extremely tough January, and I’d like to reward them for their hard work.”

Kelley and councilor Jerry Wheeldon made and seconded a motion to give the employees a day off on Monday, but councilor Jim Rutherford noted that the process might be a little more tricky than that.

“If we want to do it the right way, we’ll need to amend the personnel policy manual to add Presidents’ Day to our ... holidays,” Jim Rutherford said. City attorney Carrie Wiese said, though, that wording in the manual allows the Mayor to give employees a day off.

Councilors Tim Rutherford and Jerry Girdler pointed out that city employees had already been given a half day off with pay in late January, on a day when winter weather was expected to arrive in the area before the end of the workday.

“I think we need to look into it more,” Jerry Girdler said before the issue went to a vote.

Jerry Girdler and Tim Rutherford voted against the motion — with Rutherford offering an apology before he cast his vote. Councilor John Ricky Minton followed his vote with, “If it’s legal.” Jim Rutherford passed on the vote. Several other council members hesitantly cast their “yes” votes.

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