Falls council votes no on extra holiday

Employees will not receive Juneteenth due to costs

NEWTON FALLS — After a lengthy discussion, village council decided Wednesday that employees will not get Juneteenth as an additional paid holiday next week due to the community’s current financial problems.

Council members Chris Granchie and Julie Stimpert voted in favor of the granting the holiday to employees, while council members John Baryak and Tesa Spletzer voted against.

Mayor Ken Kline, while saying he supports the holiday and what it stands for, voted “no” to break the 2-2 tie, noting the cost of $7,000 for employees having the day off is not what the community can afford this year.

Village Manager Pam Priddy said employees had approached her about having a holiday on Juneteenth since they did not have the holiday in 2021, so the motion was requested to be placed on the agenda to designate Juneteenth as a holiday to be observed June 20.

Some communities in the area are giving employees the holiday while others are not.

Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of African-American slaves in the United States. While Juneteenth has been celebrated June 19 in various parts of the United States since 1865, it was not declared a federal holiday until last year.

Some residents at the meeting suggested employees be given a choice of having Juneteenth off instead of another federal holiday during the year.

Granchie, who sponsored the legislation, said Juneteenth has an important cultural meaning in recognizing a day when an entire group of people were given independence from being slaves, so the day should be included as an employee holiday.

“Money should not be a sticking point on this,” he said.

Baryak said he can’t support another paid holiday when the village does not have the money. He said Juneteenth can be looked at next year.

“If we need to save money, this is not the time to give raises or additional paid days off. We need to be good keepers of the money. We need to show the taxpayers we are trying to be fiscally responsible. We don’t have the money. We can see where we are at Christmas and maybe give Christmas Eve,” he said.

Baryak said there is no mandate saying communities have to give Juneteenth as a holiday.

Spletzer said, “This is something we can revisit in the future. Right now, between $6,000 and $7,000 is more than we can afford.”

Stimpert said it is insulting to the employees to not give them the holiday when compared to money spent for law director and prosecutor services and others this past year.

In other business, council voted to have Priddy obtain appraisals on properties at 612 W. Broad St., where the current municipal building offices are located, and 19 N. Canal St., where the fire department bays, police department offices and the municipal court are, for the potential sale of one of the properties.

Baryak said for the past couple of months, he has heard about officials looking at every possible way to save or raise money.

“This is one way we can show people we are looking at every avenue. If we can sell one of the locations for a good price we can look for another location. This is at least worth exploring,” Baryak said.

Priddy said she is only going to see what the value of the two buildings are worth for possible sale if that decision is made. She said the police department and the municipal court are both aware of what is being looked at.

“We are just seeing what each building would be appraised at and then figure out where to go from there and what is the best alternative,” Priddy said.

She said if a decision is made to sell one of the buildings, arrangements would be made to move the offices in one building to the other with any needed remodeling.

The SCOPE senior center is located at the 612 W. Broad St. site, and officials said if that building is sold, the center would need to find another location.

Spletzer said this is simply to see what may need to be done if officials decided to take steps to sell one of the buildings. She said getting the appraisals is the first step.

Katie Carl said there is a 99-year lease agreement with the joint fire district for the fire bays and offices at the one location.



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