A paid holiday has been added to the annual calendar for city employees in Mount Airy, but one official says citizens should not view this as just another freebie for government workers.
“Sometimes people will say we’re giving away more days,” Commissioner Jon Cawley said of such actions during a council meeting Thursday night when the extra holiday was approved.
But he said the case at hand was a matter of correcting an unfair situation for municipal personnel regarding the Thanksgiving holiday period.
In 2001, a paid holiday that was in place for those employees on the Friday after Thanksgiving was taken away, according to city government documents.
This has required municipal workers — who number about 170 at full strength — to use a vacation day or take leave without pay on that Friday.
And they don’t really have a choice in the matter, as pointed out by Cawley.
“We’re closed on that day, and most of the world is unless you’re retail,” he said of municipal offices.
The only exceptions in the city government realm are police and fire personnel and employees manning Reeves Community Center on the Friday after Thanksgiving, who take other days off to compensate for that.
“I think it might be illegal for us to close city offices and make people take vacation days,” Cawley added.
Before Thursday night’s vote, the employees received 10 paid holidays annually, according to a breakdown prepared by City Manager Stan Farmer in recommending the change to Mount Airy’s personnel policy incorporating the extra paid holiday.
“This would put us in line with the surrounding municipalities of Dobson, Elkin and Pilot Mountain, along with Surry County, who each include Thanksgiving Day and the day after Thanksgiving as part of their paid holidays.”
The slate of holidays for Mount Airy now includes New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, the two at Thanksgiving and two for Christmas.
“This puts us in line with the other local governments in the state and region,” Mayor Ron Niland said of the change.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.