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Giving workers Dec. 23 off to cost Fayette $131,480

County and PTC offices to be closed; F’ville, Tyrone will stay open to public

Fayette County’s plan next week to add an extra paid holiday to the employees’ usual 10 will cost taxpayers $131,480, according to County Administrator Steve Rapson.

County offices will be closed Monday, Dec. 23, an added day to the two-day holiday that Christmas Eve and Christmas have become for many local governments.

Peachtree City is expected to close down the Monday before Christmas, adding a day’s paid holiday to the schedule of 11 paid holidays already observed by the city. The City Council will decide the matter Thursday night.

In contrast, Fayetteville — already working with a part-time city manager and many part-time staff members at City Hall — and Tyrone both plan to be open to serve the public on Dec. 23.

Public safety functions like law enforcement, firefighting and emergency medical services will be unaffected by the closures on Dec. 23, although all public safety workers for both Fayette County and Peachtree City will have an extra paid day they may take off later on.

The Citizen queried officials in the four governments about the bonus holiday, which would provide the equivalent of a week off for Fayette County and Peachtree City employees — Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Here are portions of the email exchanges:

From Steve Rapson, Fayette County administrator —

“Here are answers to your questions:”

1. Will Dec. 23 be a paid day off for county employees? Will Dec. 24 be a paid day off?

“Yes – both are paid.”

2. Will this day off (Dec. 23 and Dec. 24) be charged against vacation/leave time of any employee?

“Neither – charged as holidays.”

3. How many paid holidays do county employees receive during a calendar year?

“10 paid holidays.”

4. How many vacation/paid leave days does a county employee with six years or more of employment receive?

“40-hour employee – 25 days [a] year (15 vacation & 10 holiday).”

Steve, this begs the question: When did Dec. 23 (or Dec. 24, for the matter) become paid holidays?

And if there are 10 paid holidays every calendar year, please name the 10 usual holidays.

“Please find below the paid holidays recognized each year ... the Board of Commissioners added Monday, December 23rd, given that Christmas Eve & Day fell on a Tuesday and Wednesday – it’s being treated as an additional holiday this year as has been done in the past at BOC discretion.

“Holidays — Fayette County shall observe the following holidays and other such holidays as may be prescribed by the Board of Commissioners.

“New Year’s Day, first day of January; Martin Luther King Day, fifteenth day of January; Memorial Day, last Monday in May; Independence Day, fourth day of July; Labor Day, first Monday in September; Veteran’s Day, eleventh day of November; Thanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November; day after Thanksgiving Day, fourth Friday in November; Christmas Eve, twenty-fourth day of December; Christmas Day, twenty-fifth day of December.

“The hard dollar cost (Salaries including benefits) is estimated at $131,480.

“Keep in mind that a lot of this projected cost would be spread over the next six months due to the majority of work force being public safety related positions. Those employees would simply bank the holiday hours and use it later ... unlike the FCBOE, the county can’t shut down the jail, water services, and must still respond to calls of service for E911, fire or EMS.”

From Peachtree City, Betsy Tyler, city clerk, and Ellece Brown, director of human resources and risk management:

Betsy Tyler — “1. If declared by Council, this would be a paid holiday for full-time employees (part-time employees do not get paid holidays). Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are already paid holidays for full-time employees.

“2. If I’m understanding the question, I don’t think so – it would be an additional holiday (there are some issues with employees who work different schedules – like 10-hour shifts, or who have that day off regularly, but I’ll need the Personnel Policy to answer that question).

“3. Full-time City Employees get 11 paid holidays per year – 9 declared dates (New Year’s Day, MLK Day, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Thanksgiving Friday, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day) and 2 floating holidays (prorated during their first year of employment) that must be taken or lost in the calendar year.

“This went into effect in 2012 when the Policy was changed to eliminate Perfect Attendance leave (which used to accrue at 3 days per year) and Safety Leave (accrued at 8 – 16 hours per year depending on job hazard level and no safety incidents per department per quarter). Two generic floating holidays replaced the single Birthday Holiday that was previously in effect.

“4. Beginning at the start of an employee’s fifth year of service (after four full years) they begin accruing vacation leave to reach 3 weeks by the end of that year. That vacation amount stays in place until the completion of 9 years (so in an employee’s 10th year and after, they accrue 4 weeks per year of vacation leave, which is the maximum).”

Ellece Brown — “2. If Council declares 12/23/13 as a holiday, this would be an additional holiday for employees in 2013. It does not mean that we would have this holiday every year. It would be a paid holiday for full-time employees, but part-time employees who would have been scheduled to work on 12/23/13 would have the day off without pay.

“Employees working on the holiday (public safety) would be given an alternative day off or be paid for the holiday. It would not count against an employee’s vacation/annual leave. In order for a non-exempt employee to be paid for an observed holiday, he/she would have to work the scheduled workday before and after the holiday or be on an excused leave approved in advance (i.e., vacation day) or bring in a doctor’s note covering the absence.

“3. Full-time employees actually receive less earned time off since we made the changes in July 2012. A full-time employee in 2012 could have received 10 paid holidays, 16 hours perfect attendance, and 8-16 hours (depending on job hazard level and no safety incidents per the individual) safety award. In 2013 the same employee receives 11 paid holidays only.”

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