The vote to recognize the holiday, taken during council's meeting Oct. 26, was quick and unanimous. The item was added to the agenda by Mayor Bob Higley in the weeks prior.
This comes after a group of West U mothers had pushed for the holiday’s inclusion and inquired about the holiday’s exclusion on the city’s officially recognized list.
The formal recognition also comes after discussion from City Council about adding the holiday to the officially recognized list in July, when council reviewed the city’s personnel policies and employee handbook.
The discussion of adding the holiday was first raised by city council back in the summer prior to any survey being submitted, according to an email from city manager Dave Beach. Beach was given direction to evaluate ways to restructure the city's observed holidays to be more inclusive and had been doing so prior to the Oct. 28 vote.
“I think our choice of holidays as a city reflects to a certain degree our policy and the image of the city to some degree,” Council Member John Barnes said during a July 27 meeting. “In particular, I think it is an anachronism that we do not recognize Martin Luther King [Jr.] Day, which is recognized by every municipality around us and the state and the feds, and we kind of stand out in omission in that regard. I think perhaps it is not a good look for us to not be doing it, and at the same time, it may have impacts on the people that we’re able to attract from elsewhere to come in in ways that we may not necessarily be able to pick up on a survey.”
While council unanimously approved recognizing the holiday in a separate agenda item Oct. 26, it enforced that decision immediately thereafter when it approved the personnel policies and employee handbook, which includes outlining the paid holidays for full-time employees.
With the addition, the city still continues to offer 10 paid holidays. Martin Luther King Jr. Day took the place of what was previously a floating holiday, though it adds approximately $26,000 in cost per year.
The 10 paid holidays include New Years' Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, the day following Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and one additional Christmas holiday.
Correction: An earlier version of the story stated Martin Luther King Jr. Day would have zero impact on the city's budget and that discussion on adding the holiday first began in July 2020. The inclusion of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday adds approximately $26,000 in cost per year and discussion on the holiday addition was first raised by city council in the summer prior to any survey being submitted.