Porterdale votes to add extra paid holiday

PORTERDALE -- The City Council went against a trend of asking government employees to take unpaid holidays at last week's meeting on Dec. 7, voting unanimously to add a paid holiday to current employee benefits.

Councilman Robert Foxworth proposed that the city add Veterans Day to its list of paid holidays, starting in 2010. Foxworth's motion was seconded by Councilwoman Arline Chapman and approved by the council unanimously.

The addition of Veterans Day brings the total number of paid holidays to 10 in Porterdale.

State and local governments have found it necessary to require employees to take unpaid holidays or furlough days to balance budgets in the wake of declining tax revenues. Because Porterdale has already budgeted Veterans Day as a paid work day, the new holiday will not increase the city's 2010 budget. However, it will mean that the city receives one less day of work for the amount of payroll budgeted. The city's payroll is approximately $1,800 per day based on total annual salaries of about $483,000. Porterdale has 15 full-time employees.

In other news, the City Council approved a $63,985 contract with architects Richard Wittschiebe Hand of Atlanta for phase 2 of the Porter Memorial Gym restoration project.

The contract will cover design work for the layout of the facility and the drafting of bid documents.

The council had agreed in principle to approve the contract at a November work session but had to wait until the Monday night meeting in order to cast an official vote.

In discussion Monday, Councilman Mike Harper, who was not present at the work session, said he had concerns about the contract and wanted to postpone the vote.

Harper said he wanted to appoint a city employee to oversee the project.

"The city needs to put someone in place to be the person (architects) contact," Harper said.

After some discussion, the council agreed with a recommendation by City Manager Tom Fox to have the city's part-time building inspector review plans for the project, not to exceed 10 hours per week.

The council voted unanimously to approve the contract with Richard Wittschiebe Hand, clearing the way for phase 2 of the gym project to begin.

Porterdale's historic gym was gutted by fire in October 2005. The fire left the gym's exterior brick walls standing, but nothing remains of the interior. The city plans to restore the gym for athletic and other recreational uses.

Other topics discussed by the council Monday included implementing a golf cart ordinance and an ordinance that would allow local merchants to sell alcoholic beverages in city parks during special events. The council voted unanimously in both cases to have City Attorney Tim Chambers research ordinances addressing each of the issues.