The city of Waynesboro is giving its employees Christmas Eve off, despite the extra expense to tax payers. The city council approved the time-off in a three to two vote Wednesday night.
The city gave government workers the day off because Christmas falls on a Tuesday, and workers would be in their offices for one day between the weekend and the holiday.
The council was divided on the issue and passed it by a very narrow margin, only one vote.
Waynesboro Councilman Frank Lucente says all he wanted to do is save money when he voted against giving city employees an extra holiday.
"I thought we should trade one of the non-traditional holidays, like Presidents Day. Most people don't get Presidents Day off, and I thought, well trade that holiday for the Christmas holiday and it's a revenue neutral thing," says Lucente.
Giving an extra day off costs the city about $12,000 in overtime for emergency personnel. Lucente says they also lose about $70,000 worth of productive time from their workers.
He says it would be about the same for any day off, but Councilwoman Lorie Smith says it's money well invested into their personnel.
"What we can do to send these kind of messages to our employees, improves retention. It sends the message to the employees about our commitment to them," says Smith.
Citizens were also divided. Some say there was no reason for the extra holiday.
One area resident, Janet Secery, says, "It's too expensive. I worked in the same company for 30 years, but we never had any of it off."
Others say everyone deserves a bonus.
"It costs you money, but then again, when you put that against the faithfulness of your workers and keeping your workers happy and the fine job that the city employees are doing, I think they deserve it," says resident Calvin Woodson.
Smith says, from now on, the city will be deciding all holiday time when they make the rest of the calendar, in January.
Waynesboro isn't the only place with a couple extra holidays this year. Several other localities in the Valley are giving Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve off to city employees.
These include Rockingham and Augusta counties and the cities of Staunton and Harrisonburg. Many say it depends on which day of the week the holiday falls on.