LUMBERTON — Seven of eight Lumberton City Council members on Wednesday voted in favor of designating Dec. 23 an additional day off for city employees. City Councilman Don Metzger voted against, saying the decision would be costly to the city.
City employees already had Tuesday, Dec. 24, Christmas Day, which is a Wednesday, and Thursday, Dec. 26 off, awkwardly splitting the work week. At a previous meeting, the council unanimously agreed to add Dec. 27, a Friday, to the list. Following the most recent vote, the city government — with the exception of emergency services — will be closed nine days, Dec. 21 through Dec. 29, a span that includes two weekends.
According to City Manager Wayne Horne, $58,010 has already been designated to pay salaried employees for Dec. 23 and 27. However, the city’s budget does not account for $109,656 in overtime pay needed to compensate employees who will have to work those two days, such as police officers, firefighters and other emergency personnel, according to Horne.
“We’ll have to find that money elsewhere in the budget,” he said.
Metzger also voiced concern that residents would not be able to pay utility bills or taxes during the holiday.
“It is unimaginable to me that we would propose to shut down the whole city and not open again until Dec. 30 and deny the citizens of Lumberton services,” Metzger said.
In other business, the council:
— Appointed Harry Jhala, owner of Econo Lodge on Kahn Drive, to the Lumberton Tourism Development Authority’s board. The board works with the Lumberton Visitors Bureau to promote travel to Lumberton and is under the authority of the City Council.
— Appointed William Locklear to the Lumberton Housing Authority Board. Locklear, a former board member, will replace Eric Chavis.
— Voted to auction off more than 200 city-owned surplus items, ranging from outdated police cars to trash cans. The auction will be Dec. 27 at 8 a.m. at Lloyd Meekins & Sons Auction Company on N.C. 211 in Lumberton. The proceeds from that auction will go back into whichever fund was used to purchase an item originally.
— Designated $600 in Community Revitalization Funds to the annual Colors of Life Community Development Christmas Dinner, which was held on Dec. 2 and 3. According to Precinct 7 Councilman Leon Maynor, who requested the allotment, other council members had already agreed to contribute money from their precincts, but the request was mistakenly left off their last meeting’s agenda.
— Designated $300 in Community Revitalization Funds from Precinct 6 to the “Toys for Tots” program. Other council members designated a total of $1,800 to the program on Nov. 18, but Robert L. Jones, Precinct 6’s councilman, was absent.
— Designated $450 from Precinct 8’s Community Revitalization Funds to Mayfair Subdivision to install underground sprinklers.
— Designated $500 from Precinct 2’s Community Revitalization Funds to the African-American Cultural Center in Lumberton for renovations.
The meeting was the last for the year for the council. Its next meeting is Jan. 13.