Everett Mayor Tried To Give Extra Paid Holiday To City Employees Without Council Notice Or Approval

July 6, 2020

Everett Government

On June 19th Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin wrote a memo to all city of Everett employees that included the following:

Mayor of Everett, Washington, Cassie Franklin. Photo credit: City of Everett

Dear City Team Members,
Today is Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. It’s a time to remind ourselves of the promises of freedom, equality and opportunity that are the foundation of our nation’s history. Today, it is important to reflect on the work we must do to ensure those values are enjoyed by everyone in our community. It’s been over 150 years since the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, yet our society is still fraught with inequities and injustices. These injustices have been front and center in the news over the past few weeks; a vivid call-to-action that as a city and as individuals, we clearly still have work to do.
To celebrate this important day, to remind us of the experience of our Black community, and to renew our commitment to ensuring Everett is a safe, welcoming, equitable city for all, I have declared Juneteenth a City holiday.

This year you will all receive an additional floating holiday in your leave bank. In following years, the City will operate on a holiday schedule on June 19th.

The Mayor did not appear to check with the City Council or publicly ask for input before announcing she was giving another floating holiday to employees. Per city charter the Mayor is not allowed to arbitrarily just give more paid holidays to city staff.

At least two Everett City Council members, Scott Murphy and Brenda Stonecipher after hearing of the announcement to city staff reached out to the Mayor citing legal concerns and the financial impacts of adding another paid holiday for city employees just weeks after layoffs and voluntary separations for dozens of staffers.

On June 22nd Mayor Franklin issued a statement to Everett City Council members that said in part:

Dear Council Members,
Thank you for sharing your honest feedback and concerns.

And I sincerely apologize for my error in not bringing this before Council in the form of a resolution. David Hall shared two Everett Municipal Codes with me this morning that confirm your point that this action should have been brought forward in that form. I apologize that this was not the case and I will prepare a resolution to amend our holiday schedule for your consideration very soon.

I will also follow up with you with detail as to the cost of the proposed Juneteenth holiday so that you have that information as well.

I feel it’s important to address your concerns on the motive of justification for this, and the importance of this step at this time in our City.

We are experiencing multiple crises simultaneously some of which most of us have not experienced in our lifetime: a public health crisis + economic devastation/unemployment/recession + racial tensions/civil unrest. These crises are affecting everyone in our community and our City family. I’ve never experienced such overwhelming loss or pain across all people in our City – and we’re not yet through it. Our community needs hope and action from their leadership.

Our City has not done nearly enough to address inequities and racism in our organization, or throughout our community. We’ve started – and made some progress – but we haven’t backed those intentions with adequate staffing, resources or priority status that this work deserves. This needs to change. Declaring Juneteenth a holiday is a very small step in that direction, a signal that we are doing more than paying lip service to this challenging issue, and an opportunity for us as leaders to be bold.

You are very correct that we are in an incredibly difficult financial position. This City has struggled with our structural deficit for nearly two decades. And it’s only in the past two years that we started to take meaningful steps to address this problem. Due to lack of resources and perhaps lack of motivation by those in leadership, addressing institutional racism has been back-burnered, under-funded, and under-prioritized. This action may cost some of our very valuable and limited resources, but it’s an important signal to the community and to our staff team of the importance we place on promoting equality and justice for all.

Here is the list of current paid Holidays per city ordinance.

2.74.030 Holidays.
The following days are hereby designated paid holidays for those appointive officers in pay status on the day before and the day after the holiday:
New Year’s Day
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
President’s Day
Memorial Day
Independence Day
Labor Day
Veteran’s Day
Thanksgiving Day
Day after Thanksgiving Day
Christmas Day
Two floating holidays.
(Ord. 2879-05 § 1, 2005: Ord. 1594-89 § 1(C), 1989)

This Wednesday the Everett City Council will be briefed on the plan to give city workers their 13th paid holiday. Final action, a public hearing and vote is currently set for July 22nd, 2020.

Everett City Council member Brenda Stoncipher told MyEverettNews.com via email Sunday of some of her concerns about the idea.

I object to her subsequent calculation of the cost as being a few thousand dollars, but the essence of this issue is, to me, not really a financial matter but one of efficacy. If the goal is to create a stronger environment for racial justice within the City and in our community, I doubt that giving another paid holiday to the (disproportionately white) city workforce is the best way to accomplish that. It is my hope that the Council can have a conversation with our community to prioritize the issues and determine the best way to approach them.

Everett City Council member Scott Murphy also expressed concerns when contacted by MyEverettNews.com.

I look forward to hearing an explanation from the mayor as to the calculation of the costs of providing all city employees an additional holiday. As budget chair, I do not see how an estimate of $6,950 could be anywhere close to an accurate estimate of the cost. It is possible that the estimate provided by the Mayor is the incremental cost of additional overtime for certain city staff who may be required to work on that day to cover critical services, excluding police and fire services.

I believe that if an additional 13th holiday is provided to city employees, the actual estimate of cost for that holiday would be the cost of the city’s payroll for one day which I estimate at over $400,000. Another way of looking at this….Giving 1,200 employees an additional 8 hours off is the equivalent of the city paying for nearly 10,000 hours for which there will be no productive work or Services provided to Citizens, thus I believe that is how the cost should be calculated.


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