The Colusa County Board of Supervisors last week declared July 2 an additional paid holiday to give county employees a four-day weekend to celebrate Independence Day.
County officials said the extra day off would be a reward for working during the COVID-19 pandemic, although it would mean shutting down county offices that provide services to the public on Friday, July 2 and Monday, July 5, as the national holiday falls on Sunday this year.
Colusa County Administrative Officer Wendy Tyler said the Board of Supervisors have the authority to declare additional holidays provided they can make a finding that the paid time off serves a public purpose.
According to Tyler, the public benefit is that giving county employees that “worked diligently” during COVID-19 the additional time off would rejuvenate them and encourage future productivity.
“It will also show them a small bit of appreciation for the work they have done over the past 14 months to keep our county organization running and keeping our citizens served and safe,” Tyler said.
County officials, including department heads, said their employees provided the same or enhanced levels of service to county residents during COVID-19, whether they worked from home or at their designated offices. During the past 14 months, most county employees reported to their normal duty location, keeping the county largely open for business. Tyler said employees also conducted business that made citizens “feel” safe and performed new tasks to keep public buildings sanitary.
Additionally, Colusa County employees remained mostly on the job when government agencies in neighboring jurisdictions sent employees home on paid leave during the early days of the pandemic as they worked to develop and implement a response, officials said.
While Colusa County Supervisors Daurice Smith, Kent Boes, Denise Carter, and Gary Evans approved the additional holiday at a cost to taxpayers in the amount of $125,000, Supervisor Merced Corona voted against it.
“I look at it as a gift of public funds,” Corona said.
While county employees were declared “essential” workers during the pandemic, so was about 90 percent of taxpayers in the private sector in Colusa County, including agriculture workers. The remaining 10 percent closed their businesses or lost their jobs due to the government-ordered shutdown of restaurants, bars, gyms, some retail, and personal care salons.
Additionally, Colusa County public employees received 80 hours of supplemental paid time off during the COVID-19 pandemic, above their normal paid sick leave, and took 15 paid holidays in 2020, more than double the paid holiday time off for most essential workers in the private sector, according to U.S. Labor Statistics.
Colusa County’s public employees also make “individually” more, double, or triple the local median “household” income of $59,401 per year, according to Transparent California.
As of March 31, Colusa County’s unemployment rate was 15.40 percent, down from 25.70 percent on April 30, 2020, at the height of the pandemic.
While Colusa County Denise Carter said the four-day weekend was a way the Board of Supervisors could show their appreciation to county employees for working during the pandemic, none on the board offered to cover the cost themselves.
County employees working in essential services, such as the jail, will not get a four-day weekend but would be credited the additional time pursuant to the terms of their current contracts, officials said. §