PA to honor veterans with employee day off 

Published 9:20 pm Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Port Arthur employees will get another paid holiday beginning the next fiscal year, City Council decided Tuesday in a split vote.

With the addition of Veterans Day, city employees will now have 10 holidays, bringing the city more in line with surrounding communities.

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Among Port Arthur’s four neighboring cities — Beaumont, Groves, Nederland and Port Neches —  Groves has the least number of paid holidays with 8; Port Neches has 10, and Beaumont, 11. Of those, only Beaumont celebrates Veterans Day, and now Port Arthur.

While most of the city’s employees will automatically get the holiday, three departments — police and fire — will not unless the added day is negotiated in their new contracts.

Port Arthur City Mayor Deloris “Bobbie” Prince had asked the item be placed on the agenda, not to give employees more time off, but as a way to honor veterans and their families.

Her request was originally made more than a month ago at Council’s last regular meeting, and was tabled with directions to City Manager Brian McDougal to provide information on how much it would cost the city, especially in overtime pay.

According to McDougal, one-day payroll for the city of Port Arthur employees is $130,000, not including any overtime.

With the exception of city employees who have to work on those days to maintain continuity of city services such as water and sewer treatment, police and fire, there would be no additional cost to extending another holiday. There would be lost productivity, McDougal said.

Overtime costs for employees that have to work on holidays would equal approximately $14,000, McDougal said, while adding the amount was difficult to quantify.

District 5 Councilmember Willie “Bae” Lewis said he had no problem with regular employees getting the additional holiday, but the police and fire departments would have to negotiate another holiday in their contract.

District 3 Councilmember Morris Albright suggested employees receive a floating holiday “so people can pick which 10 they want off of a cafeteria plan,” he said.

Albright was also concerned about lost productivity, he said.

“It is costing you the productivity, 350 people times “x” man hours. You have lost that. It can cost you the world in productivity and you cannot make that time,” Albright said.

District 1 Councilmember Raymond Scott Jr., said agreed with Albright, adding that he would like more citizen input before deciding a measure for taxpayers to pay for.

Both Albright and Scott voted against the measure in a split 6-2 vote.

McDougal said the city would determine the cost of providing the added holiday during the next budget process.

Council also approved a $1.5 million conditional grant from the city’s economic development corporation to Pure Renewables.

The company will locate at the Port of Port Arthur, where employees will process, treat and rejuvenate pre-consumer textile waste into cotton fiber commodities. The company plans to use the PAEDC grant to equip a retrofitted commercial warehouse located at the Port in order to manufacture cotton fiber from pre-consumer textile waste.

As part of the agreement Pure Renewables has agreed during in the first four years of business operations to employee 216 Port Arthur residents for full-time and part-time jobs.

For the term of the agreement Pure Renewables shall have a total Port Arthur resident payroll of $17.6 million.

Council also passed an ordinance prohibiting openly-carry handguns from City Council meetings, city boards and commissions meetings, other open meetings; municipal court and administrative court offices and polling places on Election Day or during Early Voting.

City Attorney Val Tizeno said the Texas Municipal League has asked the state’s Attorney General for an opinion on where signs can be posted warning that handguns cannot be carried in the prohibited places.


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