City looks at adding Juneteenth as a paid staff holiday

The Jefferson City Council will soon consider whether to add Juneteenth as a paid holiday for city employees.

The Juneteenth celebration is a holiday which honors June 19, 1865, the day when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Texas to announce the Emancipation Proclamation, which President Abraham Lincoln had signed 2½ years earlier.

In June 2021, President Joe Biden signed legislation that establishes Juneteenth as a federal holiday after the measure made it through Congress. The effort to get it approved followed racial justice uprisings that occurred across the country. Juneteenth became the first new federal holiday since the addition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.

Gov. Mike Parson announced soon after the federal bill signing all state offices would be closed in observance of the United States’ newest federal holiday. Missouri made June 19 a state holiday, known as Emancipation Day, in 2003.

Cole County government also recognizes the Juneteenth Holiday as does Lincoln University.

City staff had asked the City Council to add Juneteenth as a paid holiday for employees during budget discussions last year.

Ward 2 Councilman Mike Lester made the proposal to add the holiday during a Wednesday morning meeting of the council’s administration committee.

Lester showed a chart where the state and Lincoln have 13 paid holidays for their employees while Cole County has 12.

Jefferson City has 10 plus a floating holiday that may be approved by the City Council. If it is approved, then it is added on at the beginning of the city’s fiscal year, Nov. 1. Human Relations Director Gail Strope said employees can take that It does not roll over if an employee doesn’t use it. Department heads can decline an employee’s request for a specific day if the department happens to be short staffed that day.

“When this came up during the budget discussions, we learned it would cost about $ 100,000 to add another holiday,” Lester said. “I think we can accommodate that amount with sales tax funds and funds from the American Rescue Plan that the city gets.” “

Ward 3 Councilwoman Erin Wiseman, who chairs the administration committee, asked what it would happen if they took away the floating holiday and added Juneteenth along with Washington’s Birthday and Columbus Day as paid city holidays. City Administrator Steve Crowell said there would be very little effect on the city if the floating holiday were eliminated.

He added the updated cost for adding Juneteenth would be approximately $ 82,000 with the majority of that amount going to pay the police and fire personnel who work that holiday. Crowell said they hadn’t put together figures of what they might lose in revenue from not running the JeffTran bus service or not charging for the Monroe Street parking garage and downtown parking meters.

Wiseman asked city staff to give the council more information about possibly making the other holiday additions. Committee members said their main focus, for now, would be to look at whether to make Juneteenth a permanent holiday for the city.

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