Extra time off for holidays will cost city $44,000

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 12, 2004

[11/11/04]A doubling of days off for Vicksburg employees this holiday season will cost taxpayers at least $44,000 to pay for police and firefighters.

The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 2-1 Wednesday to approve a total of six days off for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s for city employees. The two extra days are Dec. 24 and Dec. 31, both Fridays.

Normally, there is one paid holiday, but this year both Christmas and New Year’s Day are on Saturday. The official holiday day off is the following Monday, but Gov. Haley Barbour issued an order that state employees would take off both Fridays and both Mondays.

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Barbour left it up to the counties to decide if their employees would get the extra days. Last week, the Warren County Board of Supervisors granted those same holidays to county employees and this week, on a 2-1 vote, city officials did the same.

Lamar Horton, director of the city’s human resource department, had requested the matching schedule. “I really did not approach it from a cost aspect because the cost is there any way,” Horton said. “It’s hard to explain to the employees why the state, the county and many municipalities are taking those days off.”

Other than utility workers who would be called in only in case of an emergency, the only additional cost to the city payroll, other than lost productivity, will be in the police and fire departments, said Paul Rogers, city strategic planner.

Police officers and firefighters who work on holidays usually are not paid extra for it because the holiday pay is figured into their base salaries based on the number of holidays the city usually takes off. With the extra two days, the officers and firefighters who work will be paid for an additional eight hours.

City Accountant John Smith said that will cost $22,000 per day for a total of $44,000 if no utility workers are called in.

South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman voted against the additional days off. Mayor Laurence Leyens said he was initially against it, but voted in favor of the holidays along with North Ward Alderman Gertrude Young.

“I’d like to see the week of the 27th be an extra spectacular week to make it up to the community,” Leyens said.

Because city employees will be off the Monday after Christmas and the Friday before New Year’s Day, they will work only three days that week.

Beauman, who said that the biggest expense to the city would be the lost productivity, did not say why he opposed the extra holidays.3