Doreen Wise of Goose Creek loves her job in a local mom-and-pop business office, but every year at the holidays, she gets a little wistful.
State holiday schedule
2012New Year’s Day — Jan. 2Martin Luther King Jr. Day — Jan. 16President’s Day — Feb. 20 Confederate Memorial Day — May 10National Memorial Day — May 28Independence Day — July 4Labor Day — Sept. 3Veterans Day — Nov. 12Thanksgiving Day — Nov. 22Day after Thanksgiving Day — Nov. 23Christmas Eve — Dec. 24Christmas Day — Dec. 25Day after Christmas — Dec. 262013New Year’s Day — Jan. 1Martin Luther King Jr. Day — Jan. 21President’s Day — Feb. 18Confederate Memorial Day — May 10National Memorial Day — May 27Independence Day — July 4Labor Day — Sept. 2Veterans Day — Nov. 11Thanksgiving Day — Nov. 28Day after Thanksgiving — Nov. 29Christmas Eve — Dec. 24Christmas Day — Dec. 25Day after Christmas — Dec. 26
“One of my closest friends works for the county, and she gets so much more time off around the holidays than I do,” she said. “The day after Christmas, I’ll be back at my desk while she’s out shopping.”
Wise is jealous that her friend will be off work before and after Christmas, while she just gets the day.
This year, state and local county employees have again been given three days off for Christmas. That means they finished work Friday and won’t return to their desks until Thursday.
“Seems like a waste of my tax money,” said retiree James Van Dyke of Summerville. “It’s the end of the year so I’m sure a lot of people have business with them that needs to be done. Now they’ll tell us they were overworked the rest of the week because they were off.”
But because state offices are closed, local governments figure they might as well give their employees the days off, too. Berkeley, Dorchester and Charleston counties have all given employees the three-day break. At the municipal level, the city of Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Summerville, Goose Creek and Hanahan are all taking two days: Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Officials point out that emergency services such as police, fire and medical aid are open during the holidays, but business offices are not.
Berkeley County Deputy Supervisor Kace Smith said the county typically gives the same holidays as the state because much of the county’s business depends on state offices. It doesn’t make sense to stay open if they are unable to interact with state offices.
“It’s also a way of saying we appreciate and recognize our employees’ hard work the rest of the year,” said Berkeley County Councilman Caldwell Pinckney.
But Councilman Dennis Fish called the extended holiday “a bit excessive.”
“I object to taking the day after Christmas inasmuch as the IRS and all banks are open that day,” he said.
Last year, when Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were on the weekend, state offices and many local government offices were closed Dec. 23 to 27.
Asked about the long break, Rob Godfrey, spokesman for Gov. Nikki Haley, told The Post and Courier last year, “We will look at it next year and find out how the decision was made and what we can do to change it.”
This year, he said, “we looked at the process, and turns out it is established by statute and would need to be changed by the legislature.”
State law says Dec. 24, 25 and 26 are legal holidays. Christmas Eve was added in 2009, giving state employees 13 paid holidays.
It cost taxpayers an estimated $22.9 million in wages to give about 58,300 full-time state employees the break, according to the state Budget and Control Board. Comparable figures for county and municipal workers were not available.
Next year, Christmas is on a Wednesday, meaning that employees will work on just Monday and Friday that week.
“I’m sure they’ll be very productive those two days they’re working,” said Van Dyke. “Then our tax dollars will really be hard at work.”
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or www.facebook.com/brindge.
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