PORT RICHEY — City leaders voted to give employees the gift of an extra paid day off this holiday season, but not before questions were raised over paying for it.
With Christmas and New Year's eves both landing on a Monday this year, the Port Richey City Council got a pitch Tuesday night from City Manager Tom O'Neill to give employees those days off with holiday pay. (Employees already have Christmas and New Year's Day off.)
But it was going to mean $7,500 in unbudgeted costs to pay overtime rates for police, fire and on-call public works employees who will still have to work. Vice Mayor Bill Colombo said closing could be a positive, as employee production may be lower on those days.
"Try as you might, not as much gets accomplished that Monday as one might want to," Colombo said.
But Colombo also lamented that the holidays were not part of the budget and union-negotiated contracts with police and fire.
"Now all of the sudden we're outside the contract," he said.
Council member Steve O'Neill said since Pasco County had already agreed to those two days off for its employees, the city could follow suit. County officials had found themselves in a similar pickle last year, though, when they debated granting an extra holiday heading into the Christmas weekend, even though they had not budgeted for the overtime expense.
"It's a tough spot," O'Neill said of the cost. "I just think it's a good thing for the employees."
In the end, Mayor Eloise Taylor came up with the solution to pick one of the two days. Her choice was Christmas Eve.
"I would think Christmas Eve would be given greater weight than New Year's Eve in terms of how we feel about the holidays," she said.
Council member Steve O'Neill agreed and made a motion to approve City Hall being closed Christmas Eve, which the council unanimously approved. The projected cost to the city is $3,750, which will come from the contingency fund.