Jacksonville has recognized a new city holiday, although another may be on the chopping block.
Juneteenth is officially a holiday in the City of Jacksonville after the City Council voted to approve a resolution making it official during their regular meeting last night.
The vote fell just short of unanimous, however, with Ward 3 Alderman Kent Hannant being the lone no vote. During the workshop discussion, Hannant questioned if the new holiday was to be a paid holiday for the city employees affected by the new holiday.
He says he is not against Juneteenth as a holiday at all, but rather he is concerned that adding another holiday would cost taxpayers in the long run.
“As far as the holiday goes, I’m one hundred percent for the holiday and supporting of the holiday. I had asked that we not add a holiday to the city budget because it was discussed in council that it could be in excess of a twenty thousand dollar bill to pay the wages and I don’t feel that the taxpayers of Jacksonville are going to get that day off, so it’s basically only going to benefit the city employees.
If we use it as a token day and we honored the holiday and we didn’t use it as a paid holiday, I would be one hundred percent in support of that. Or I had suggested changing Columbus Day as the paid city holiday and moving it to Juneteenth.”
During discussion, it was brought up that the city used to switch out an old holiday when a new one was recognized to keep a cap on the number of paid holidays for city employees.
Currently, city employees get 12 paid holidays a year and Hannant says he would like to keep the cap at 12 per year.
“I personally believe that there are more people in the community that are going to celebrate Juneteenth and recognize it as a holiday than are going to care about Columbus Day as a holiday. I don’t have a problem with the city recognizing either of the holidays, but if it’s going to be as a paid holiday, I would rather see them move the Columbus Day paid holiday to Juneteenth and make it the paid holiday, not add a holiday and put a burden on the taxpayer.”
Hannant said prior to the vote that he would prefer the switching out of Columbus Day. During workshop discussion, it was estimated that adding another paid holiday would cost the city approximately twenty thousand in wages where no productivity or services would be had for the expense that would be paid out either way.
Hannant says he hopes the city will come back during another council meeting and adjust the holiday calendar to drop it back to the existing twelve after more information is obtained about the existing state and federal holiday declarations for juneteenth, making the day recognized as the end of slavery in the United States an official holiday.