GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis City Commission met for its regular monthly meeting Tuesday in the Gallipolis Municipal Building where a vote was taken for a second time in 2020 regarding whether the city would consider making Veterans Day a paid employee holiday.
Commissioners Cody Caldwell, Mike Fulks and Beau Sang voted to deny the motion while Commissioners Tony Gallagher and Mike Brown voted to approve it.
Former Gallipolis city manager and Gallia commissioner candidate Gene Greene took a moment to challenge a previous comment made by Gallagher at a previous commission meeting and quoted in the Jan. 8 edition of the Gallipolis Daily Tribune.
“I just wanted to clarify something from last meeting,” said Greene. “I know last meeting it was brought up about Veterans Day. What you do with Veterans Day I respect either way. That’s up to you five gentlemen there. But was stated by Mr. Gallagher there that he wanted to (make Veterans Day a paid employee holiday) simply because the city had not done anything for their employees for a long, long time. And the (Gallipolis Daily Tribune) printed it. Rightfully so. But, which is not true, and I wanted to clarify that because the city has I know at least four out of five years, the city employees have gotten a raise. I know that. They’ve got Christmas bonuses.”
Gallagher said he was unaware of that and Greene said that Gallagher voted on it. Fulks echoed Greene’s sentiment.
“I just wanted to clarify that on my watch that city employees did get their yearly raise. We even picked up some insurance,” said Greene. “The city auditor found a tremendous raise for them I think the first or second year I was here… We picked up part of their insurance to help them out a little bit and we’ve even adjusted departments with hourly wages to bring them up equal… We didn’t leave them out.”
Gallagher later in the meeting addressed Greene.
“Mr. Greene, I’m sorry. I didn’t want to insinuate that you didn’t know what you were doing last year,”said Gallagher. “I knew we gave a raise to the police because we had to. I didn’t know that all the employees got raises every year. I did not know that. I apologize for that and Mr. Fulks as you said I should have known. I didn’t know and I apologize. “
Gallagher after said he had reached out to City Manager Ted Lozier and City Auditor and Clerk Annette Landers to determine the specific finances of what it would cost the city in terms of additional funds to give employees the day off for Veterans Day.
According to Lozier, the employees would still be paid as if they were working if the city considered Veterans Day a paid employee holiday, which would cost the city roughly $10,000 a day. The city would not have a day of productivity and there would be an incremental increase in cost.
Gallagher cited the incremental cost as roughly $2,900 due to potential overtime with employees that would need called in for potential overtime needs.
Gallagher made a motion which was seconded by Brown to turn Veterans Day into a paid employee holiday and it was voted down.
“As I said before, the federal government is closed that day. The state of Ohio is closed that day. Gallia County is closed that day. The banks and the post office is closed. Most people don’t know the city is open,” said Gallagher. “We don’t get that many people coming in… I think it would be a nice thing for the employees to give them an extra thing and honor the veterans. That’s the reason I made that motion.”
Gallagher “called to question,” an action allowing commissioners to cut short discussion on a matter and put a motion to a vote.
Commissioners in August 2018 said they were concerned with the city’s budget and that employees had chosen to observe Veterans Day the day after Thanksgiving. Gallagher during the meeting 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. Then Commissioner Stephen Wallis said he believed it was set during union negotiations.
More on this week’s meeting in an upcoming edition of the Gallipolis Daily Tribune.
Dean Wright is a staff writer with Ohio Valley Publishing and can be reached at 740-446-2342.