Buybacks and a Floating Holiday

commissionThe Escambia County Commission paved the way this morning for county employees to buyback accrued leave time and also approved a “floating holiday,” which this year will fall on New Year’s Eve.

“I think it’s very important that we—that our employees know that they are appreciated,” said Commissioner Lumon May, who pushed for giving employees New Years Eve off during last week’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

In addition to freeing up employees’ New Year’s Eve, the commission waived current policy to allow employees to buyback up to 80 hours of accrued annual leave time. The commission turned to this option after deciding the budget could not support a 3 percent  cost of living adjustment previously discussed.

Commissioner Wilson Robertson called the buyback option a “good gesture.” He encouraged the commission to keep searching the budget in an effort to offer the cost of living adjustment.

“Let’s find a raise,” Robertson told the other commissioners. “It’s been nearly seven years. We’re gonna lose some great employees if we don’t show’em we appreciate’em.”

In conjunction with green-lighting the buybacks, the commission also approved a supplemental budget amendment recognizing the estimated proceeds from a premium rebate on a health insurance contract—about $2.3 million—and appropriating the funds for the buyback (up to $1.4 million) and placing the remainder ($900,000) into a health insurance reserve.

This morning’s special meeting—the commission’s final meeting of the year—was held in the old county courthouse, as the commission chambers’ video and audio equipment is being upgraded. For this reason, the meeting was not televised.

“I like this room,” Interim County Administrator George Touart noted the venue change at the meeting’s onset. “This is a cozy room.”