City declines Vet Day employee holiday

By Dean Wright -

GALLIPOLIS — After brief discussion and a called vote, the Gallipolis City Commission chose Tuesday evening to not make Veterans Day an additional paid holiday for employees.

City Commissioner Tony Gallagher previously asked the public to consider supporting the action at a commission meeting in early July. He moved Tuesday to make Veterans Day a paid holiday for city employees with Commissioner Cody Caldwell seconding the motion so it was up for discussion during the meeting.

“The reason I’m doing that is because the federal government, State of Ohio, the Gallia County government that we’re in (meaning geographically in the county) and the banks and post office all close on Veterans Day,” said Gallagher,” to honor veterans. I think it’s very important we do the same. We don’t really get a lot of work done. We can’t go to the post office and we can’t go to the banks and do what we normally do.”

Gallagher acknowledged the city could not give extra benefits often to employees as the city might like, but giving them the day would be a “little something extra.”

Caldwell said his understanding was that employees had chosen to observe Veterans Day the day after Thanksgiving. Gallagher said to his understanding, employees had taken that vote over 40 years ago. There was some question among commissioners as to when the decision had gone into effect exactly. Commissioner Stephen Wallis said he believed it was set during union negotiations.

City Manager Gene Greene said employees did not want to trade holiday observance dates. Gallagher said he was not motioning to trade dates but to give the day in addition to what employees already had.

“I hate to be under the assumption that our employees are nonproductive any day of the year,” said Wallis “when we are running at about half staff from what we need to be…We’ve got people asking us for dollars (Wallis indicated of Gallia CIC President Josh Bodimer asking the city to consider matching funds for an executive director for economic development). We can’t fund an organization that says they want to help us with even a person. We don’t have it. We can’t match any other dollars or other grants that are going to become available. Dollars count. Employees, they made a decision. If they want to approach us with that, I think that’s fine.”

Wallis said it costs around $10,000 a day to maintain the city’s payroll.

Wallis challenged the idea that another day of payroll without productivity would be a small thing for the city and the commissioners were responsible for the city’s financial health. He felt employees made due the best they could with half staff as the city has said it faces continuing budget woes.

Ultimately, a vote was called by Gallagher and he stood as the sole commissioner voting to make Veterans Day a paid employee holiday. Commissioner Beau Sang was not present for the meeting.

Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.

By Dean Wright