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April 16, 2014

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Henderson cites cost-savings, votes to close between Christmas, New Year’s

At their Tuesday night meeting, the Henderson City Council unanimously approved the closing of the city’s offices Dec. 27 through Dec. 30.

In the agenda item itself, City Manager Mark Calhoun writes that city officials proposed the changes “in an effort to save operating funds.”

Giving city employees the additional paid time off, instead of holiday pay, will save the city $600,000, said Henderson Human Resources Director Fred Horvath.

Henderson employees typically work a four-day workweek, Monday through Thursday, meaning the additional time off will close the city’s offices between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

The suggestion came forward because the three mandated, end-of-the-year holidays – Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Day – all fall on days city employees would normally have off.

In the Teamsters union contract, it says that represented employees will be paid holiday pay, even if those days fall on weekends, said city spokeswoman Kathy Blaha.

So, the city will observe those holidays on Dec. 27 through 30, giving employees extra paid time off, rather than handing out additional holiday pay. The Teamsters approved the change, Blaha said.

“Non-represented employees usually follow the Teamsters,” Blaha said, so most employees will not work that week.

Some city employees, including police, firefighters and utility services employees, will be working during the week, Blaha said. Two of the city’s recreation centers will also be staffed, but the city has not yet announced which centers will be open, Blaha said.

Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen praised the city’s employees for being willing to make a sacrifice. He pointed to the fact that the city’s unions made concessions earlier this year before unions in other municipalities.

Councilman Steve Kirk said he initially didn’t understand the measure, because "only in government could we give people a day off and say we're saving money.”

The last week of the year is typically the city’s least productive, Horvath said, adding that on Dec. 30, only about 25 percent of employees usually come into work. Kirk said he thought it might be a good idea to make Dec. 30 a mandatory furlough day in future years.

Kathleen Boutin wasn't present at Tuesday’s meeting.

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