An Expensive Attempt to Save Money

February 23, 2011
By

By Seth Daniel

seth@reverejournal.com

A move to save money on the so-called “hack holidays” of Bunker Hill and Evacuation Day is actually ending up costing the City more money.

Could anything less be expected of state and local government?

In this case, the answer is no.

Mayor Tom Ambrosino said he is trying to figure out how to deal with the “foolish” situation that is confronting Revere and all other Suffolk County municipalities this year, a situation that will most likely result in having to pay city workers double time for coming into work on those two days.

Before this year, the days were only regular paid holidays.

The problem stems from an effort in last year’s State Budget to eliminate Bunker Hill Day and Evacuation Day – hopefully saving the state quite a bit of money. The original effort was noble, but a last minute addition to the law in order to pacify opponents called for retaining the holiday status while keeping government offices open.

It ends up being the holiday that isn’t a holiday, but is really a holiday.

So, that final solution was drawn up in a way that indicated the days were still holidays, but that municipal buildings and offices had to be open and “adequately staffed.”

It was an effort to save money on the two controversial holidays, but now it will end up costing more due to existing union contracts – which have both days listed as holidays and call for double pay on holidays.

“That’s just fine in a vacuum, but it’s costing municipalities more money than before,” said Ambrosino. “If you want to bring employees in, they have to be paid double. I’m waiting for the unions to get back to me to tell me what it will cost me to bring people in on their day off. I’ve made an offer to the union to see if I can minimize the impact. They will get back to me on it as to whether they will accept the offer or not.”

He said that a loose projection of costs for Revere is around $20,000, but it could be less.

“It’s costing everyone in Suffolk County more money,” he said. “It’s costing Boston significantly more.”

Municipal buildings that are required to be open would be City Hall, the Legion Building/Inspectional Services, the Library and Parks and Recreation. The Department of Public Works (DPW) and Police and Fire Departments are not affected by the situation.

Incidentally, Ambrosino said he is defining “adequately staffed” as meaning one person in every department.

He said that the situation is simply one created by a lack of attention to detail at the State Legislature.

“I think they just didn’t think through the law,” he said. “They didn’t consider that if Suffolk County has this as a holiday, then it’s probably written into all these union contracts that they are a paid day off and that coming in on a paid day off requires double pay. I don’t think anyone paid a lot of attention to that.”

Evacuation Day falls on March 17 and Bunker Hill Day is on June 17.

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