• 68°

Monticello officials question holiday leave policy

A holiday policy change will cost some Monticello town employeesa day or more off work.

What started as a money-saving issue turned into a question ofhow fair and equitable the town’s policy was.

At issue is a current policy under which town employees who workshifts and are scheduled to be off on a given holiday may selectanother day to take as their holiday.

The policy change primarily effects policemen and firefighters,who work on shifts. The town allows workers seven paid holidays,and employees are paid double their usual salaries if they have towork on a holiday.

“I don’t like the fact they’re getting it now and we’re talkingabout taking it away from them,” said Ward Four Alderman DickReeves. “I’m just not sure it’s a sound policy.”

Reeves said the current policy was an “accounting nightmare” andworried about its disparity.

Mayor David Nichols agreed.

“If this was something that was going to cost our employees adime out of their pocketbook, I never would have put it on thetable,” he said.

Reeves said he didn’t like the current policy because therandomness of scheduling means there is a slim possibility that asingle employee could be off work on all seven holidays and receivean extra week’s vacation.

“I’ve researched it a little and I haven’t found a privateentity that does this,” he said.

Nichols said he was not aware of a private business that offereda similar program but admitted that there were other publicentities that used the same policy.

Monticello police officers Charles White and David Stanleyparticipated in the round-table discussion about the policy.Although they said they preferred to keep the policy unchanged,they admitted they rarely took advantage of the extra day off.

“Either way you go is fine with me, but I think if you changethis policy the man with the day off is not getting anyreimbursement for the holiday,” Stanley said.

“They still have the day off,” Reeves replied.

The policy discussion began as a means to save the town a fewdollars in its budget. City Clerk Ruth Spicer estimated the townspent approximately $17,000 annually because of the policy. Herfigures were based on the pay for a substitute policeman orfirefighter for the day but did not include any overtime pay theemployee may receive by working the shift.

“I’m not trying to take anything from an employee. What I’mtrying to do is keep this town strong fiscally,” Nichols said.

Nichols cited cuts in the town’s income, increases in areas suchas insurance and unfunded mandates as cause for concern.

“Everything is going up on us, and we’re getting these unfundedmandates while some of our revenue streams are being cut. Is thisgoing to solve all that? No, but it’s a first step in the rightdirection,” he said.

The town has managed to upgrade its services and provideemployee raises for each of the last seven years without raisingtaxes, Nichols said. He added that a tax hike would be inevitableif the town doesn’t begin cutting its expenses.

“This figure is only going to go up as add employees or givemore raises,” Nichols said, referring to the $17,000 estimate for2004.

In other matters, Steve Cliburn was sworn in as interim WardFour alderman. Cliburn will finish the term of Pete Mathews, whoresigned earlier this month after moving out of the ward.