City staff will get to have President's Day off again

Truth file photo A City of Elkhart employee filed a grievance against his employer for moving the paid day off on President's Day to Dec. 24. On Tuesday, the Board of Public Works decided to change that back.

ELKHART — President’s Day on Christmas Eve is history in Elkhart.

And so, City of Elkhart employees will go back to taking President’s Day on the third Monday of February rather than Dec. 24.

That was decided by the city’s Board of Public Works on Tuesday as a result of an employee filing a grievance against the city through the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The employee, Tom Ball, was unhappy that former Mayor Tim Neese had moved the paid holiday to Christmas Eve.

Ball had a particularly smooth grievance hearing, as the city’s representative, new city attorney John Espar, agreed with him. He said the municipal code was clear employees should have a paid day off on President’s Day.

“I do not believe that Mr. Neese had the authority to deviate from municipal law, which sets forth a minimum inventory of holidays that will be observed in the city,” he said. “I think it no less appropriate to celebrate Christmas on July 3 or July 4 or Oct. 30 than it is to celebrate President’s Day on a day other than the defined holiday.”

Ball said he realizes people like not having to work on Christmas Eve.

“I would too. But I’ve been here 18 years and I’ve always made plans if I wanted Christmas Eve off – I took a vacation day, a personal day, comp time, and it’s always been that way for 18 years – so I didn’t understand why they wanted to change that,” he said.

Mayor Rod Roberson, on the job less than a week, said he appreciated Ball’s action to make sure that paid holidays are on the appropriate dates.

He also opened a door for Dec. 24 becoming an additional paid holiday in the future.

“Christmas Eve may be a holiday that we want to look at, so we will follow the appropriate procedure in order to do that,” he said.

This was one of Espar’s first public tasks since joining the Roberson administration on Jan. 1. He spent 15 years as corporate counsel to Michigan City and four years as the Laporte County prosecutor.

Roberson has yet to appoint Elkhart’s new corporate counsel, who will be the leader of the Legal Department, after Vlado Vranjes stepped down at the end of 2019.

Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter at @ReadRasmus

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