With not much pomp, Elizabethtown City Council approved the city’s 2022-2023 budget Monday night at a special meeting.
The $ 97.2 million budget, which is an increase of $ 19.3 million from the current year’s budget, was unanimously approved.
“A lot was done and I think it does a great job of covering all the bases,” Mayor Jeff Gregory said.
The budget was discussed at length in early June to include the police and fire department budgets and the rising cost of inflation and its effect on capital projects.
What did draw discussion was the addition of three recognized holidays, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Juneteenth and Veterans Day, for city employees.
Saying he has been a proponent for recognizing Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Veterans Day as a city holiday for some time, Councilman Marty Fulkerson asked if Juneteenth would be better served for city employees as a floating holiday.
Councilwoman Cindy Walker said in her discussion with city employees, she has found a desire for additional personal days rather than recognized holidays.
“So it’s kind of hard to say which way we need to go,” she said. “You want to do what’s in the best interest of (the city employees), but you also make sure the public knows that we do recognize those days. as very important days in our history. ”
Gregory said when holidays are added, the cost to the city is between $ 45,000 to $ 55,000 in holiday and, sometimes, overtime pay.
Fulkerson said if the council were to decide to keep city hall and other city departments open on these added holidays, some of which fall on regular meeting dates for city council, and council were not to meet, “it’s a bad optic.”
Councilman Virgil Willoughby said a solution would be to meet if city employees work.
The council asked Police Chief Jeremy Thompson how his employees felt about receiving personal days over holidays. Thompson said in informal talks with some employees he found some preferred the holiday, some preferred personal days and then others just didn’t care.
What council should consider, Thompson said is how the public, who are generally unaware of council proceedings, would react to being open on these holidays.
“I think the argument, just for consideration…, the public perception of the city is working today,” he said. “They don’t know that you added personal days.”
It was a sentiment that City Administrator Ed Poppe echoed saying many city employees don’t understand why they are working when city council did not meet on a holiday.
Councilwoman Julia Springsteen said regardless of how people choose to use the time off for these holidays, should not have relevance to the council’s decision to award the day off.
“It’s important for the city to recognize it for what it is and not lose it in a personal day or floating day,” she said.
Having worked in retail, Councilman Tony Bishop said the floating days made sense because sometimes getting a holiday in the middle of the week made for a rushed day because he knew he had to return to work the following day.
Agreeing with Springsteen, Councilman Matt Deneen said the city should maintain the holidays, since it was already approved in the budget.
The council unanimously voted to grant the three holidays.
Council approved the appointments of Lee Hunter to the Code Enforcement Board and Maurice Young to the Planning Commission. Hunter’s term expires July 7, 2023, and Young’s term expires June 20, 2026.
An ordinance to amend the zoning map for property at 120 Robinbrooke Blvd. from Urban Residential, mixed to High Density Residential was approved.