Crestwood aldermen consider whether to provide personal day for employees

Recently resigned city administrator says proposal offers incentive for employees to stay in Crestwood

By BURKE WASSON

Crestwood aldermen will decide later this month whether to provide one personal day each year for city employees, but raised concerns about that proposal last week.

The proposal would allow full-time employees, including firefighters, police and other shift employees who work 30 hours or more each week, to receive one personal day each year.

The measure, which originated from the city’s employee-retention committee and was recommended by the city’s Civil Service Board, would restrict employees from using a personal day if they are not in compliance with personnel rules related to vacation and compensation time. Personal days also would have to be scheduled at the “mutual convenience of the employee and supervisor.”

Despite those proposed conditions, aldermen questioned the need for a personal day when employees already have the equivalent of 11.5 holidays off work each year.

Others questioned the effect of personal days on city productivity. Officials estimate 90 to 100 city employees would be eligible for personal days, and some aldermen wondered how beneficial it would be to lose essentially 90 to 100 days of work each year.

“I don’t see anything in the information attaching a cost or a proposed cost to that personal day,” Ward 1 Alderman Richard Bland said. “The other issue at hand seems to be the last couple years … we’ve approved extra days off at a cost to the city. And now I’m guessing we’re going to have to either decide to go with the personal day or go against extra days off. But I’d kind of like to know what we should expect costwise.”

City Administrator Frank Myers, who re-signed his post effective March 28, told aldermen that adding a personal day would provide an incentive for employees to stay in Crestwood.

“Our employees have not received much by way of raises for the last several years,” Myers said. “At the direction of this board two years ago, we formed this employee-retention committee … One item is being recommended … There is a real concern about keeping employees in our organization. And I do believe that adding a personal day is a method that brings value to stay versus going somewhere else, where you don’t have that.”

But Board of Aldermen President Gregg Roby does not believe that allowing one personal day each year will have much of an effect on employee retention.

“I think if you were to ask an employee would you rather have a raise or would you rather have an extra personal day of the year, they’ll tell you they’d rather have a raise,” Roby said. “And I think unfortunately the way this situation is right now in the city, that’s not really within reach. If you really feel that this is the type of thing that’s going to retain people — and I disagree with that — I don’t think one day a year is enough to retain an individual.”

Noting that Des Peres and Kirkwood also do not allow personal days, Roby also questioned the necessity of extra days off work while employees already have the equivalent of 11.5 holidays off work each year.

“In most businesses, you get a set number of days each year that you’re allowed off that are considered holidays,” Roby said. “Unfortunately, city government happens to fall under the same category as banks and those organizations. So when it’s a federal holiday, they’re off. When it’s Presidents Day, they’re off … At the end of this last year, we had a vote on whether or not to give the employees off days over the holidays. And we approved that. So now we’re being asked to approve another personal day in addition to that. I just think that maybe we’re going a little too far.”

But because the suggestion for one personal day per year came from employees themselves, Civil Service Board member Martha Duchild believes that approving the time off would only improve morale.

“The employee-retention committee came up with quite a few suggestions on what the city could do to retain its employees,” Duchild said. “And we felt that so that the committee would not have been working in vain and that this was a reasonable suggestion by the committee, it did not represent that much of an extra cost to the budget compared to the other suggestions that were given. I’ve been on committees be-fore where they’ve been asked to make suggestions that were not followed.

“If you keep asking employees to make suggestions, if they don’t get anything from it, it’s part of morale and there’s not much point in having this committee to get the things that they’re working on if the ideas they come up with at least aren’t acted upon. And the Civil Service Board felt that this was feasible.”

Resident Char Braun said out of respect for employees, aldermen should “give something back” to them by allowing personal days.

“I’m a little appalled at some of the things I’m hearing,” Braun said. “The reason being I’ve been hearing for at least two or three years coming up to these meetings how great the employees are and how much they’re appreciated. I can’t believe that giving them a personal day off is a big deal. It’s eight hours. You’re not going to pay for it. I know we can’t afford to give them raises. I know we can’t afford a lot of extra time off.

“They understand that, too. But you have to give something back. And I don’t think that’s too much to ask. People are productive. They’re going to be more productive when they feel appreciated … I’m just very surprised because the conversation that’s going here, this is going to get back. There are people in the room that are city employees. They’re hearing it. This is a very negative conversation and it shouldn’t be.”