Mebane’s city council has set its next meeting, May 2, as a time when residents should come forward to voice their views on whether the city should add a paid holiday to the city’s schedule in honor of Juneteenth.
Juneteenth had been a relatively obscure or unknown holiday, except within the black community, until last year, when Congress established it as a federal holiday.
Now celebrated on June 19, the date’s significance stems from the date in 1865 on which news of the emancipation reached Texas, the last state of the Confederacy to have unemancipated slaves.
Mebane is among the first local jurisdictions to consider adding the date as a paid city holiday. Gibsonville’s board of aldermen added the holiday last year in July shortly after the federal action last June, and Elon’s board of aldermen voted to establish it earlier this year.
The proposal to add another paid holiday would add a cost of $48,145, Beatrice Hunter, the city’s human relations director, told Mebane’s council members.
The item was added to the agenda at the request of councilman Sean Ewing, who first raised the issue at the council’s March meeting.
However, when the topic came up this week, councilman Tim Bradley – who was present by phone rather than in-person, due to a back operation – said he did not feel that the council had received or solicited adequate public input to make a decision on a new holiday.
The “absence of any public discussion,” Bradley suggested, was a defect in Mebane’s process.
Bradley pointed out that the federal government has 11 paid holidays and that Mebane already has 12, and he questioned how the city would handle adding a 13th holiday.
He also pointed out that neither the state, Alamance County, nor local businesses have adopted Juneteenth as a holiday, which he suggested would further complicate Mebane potentially adding it as an additional holiday.
He also raised the issue of whether Mebane should consider allowing some holidays that fall on a weekend not to be paid. For instance, it was noted that June 19 falls on a Sunday in 2022, so the city would not necessarily have to cause it to be a paid holiday unless the council votes explicitly to do so.
Hunter pointed out that Mebane frequently makes other holidays paid on the Monday after a holiday that falls on Sunday or Friday on a holiday that falls on Saturday.
Mebane’s council will resume consideration of making Juneteenth a holiday at its May 2 meeting. There was also discussion about soliciting a historian to brief the council and the public on the historical significance of the date.
Read the newspaper’s editorial page opinion on the issue of Juneteenth and other holidays for government employees: https://alamancenews.com/how-many-tax-paid-holidays-is-enough/