The Amityville Village Board of Trustees has voted to remove Sept. 11 as a village holiday after employees said they would rather have Black Friday off.
The decision was made at Monday night’s board meeting, after officials realized that designating the anniversary of the terror attacks as a holiday would result in losing another holiday. The village lost the Veterans Day holiday this year. It will be restored for 2018.
Mayor Dennis Siry, who worked as an FDNY firefighter on Sept. 11, said he thinks everyone in the country should have the day off and use it to volunteer and do community work.
However, “the people that are working here, that I care about, they all agree that they would rather have the four-day weekend when their family’s traveling, when their kids are home from school,” Siry said. “I would rather honor how they feel.”
Village board members voted to approve Sept. 11, also known as Patriot Day, as an official village holiday on Nov. 14, 2016, as a way of honoring those who lost their lives during the terror attacks in lower Manhattan, the Pentagon and onboard a plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.
Under village policy, full-time employees are allowed eight federal paid holidays and four additional paid holidays each year. The additional holidays are decided by the board, according to Village Clerk/Treasurer Catherine Murdock. In past years, those four holidays were Columbus Day, Veterans Day, the day after Thanksgiving — also known as Black Friday — and Christmas Eve.
When Patriot Day was added to the 2017 calendar, the previous administration removed the Veterans Day holiday, observed on a Friday, in order to meet the 12-holiday limit. Because Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday this year, employees were given Lincoln’s Birthday off as well.
Siry said that when Patriot Day was added as a holiday, there was no discussion of removing Veterans Day, and minutes from that meeting do not mention the Nov. 11 holiday that honors those who have served in the military. Siry said he and others became aware of the issue in November.
Officials last week polled the 59 full-time village employees about whether they would prefer having Sept. 11 or Black Friday off. The employees unanimously picked Black Friday, Murdock said.
The board vote to eliminate Sept. 11 as a holiday was 4-1, with trustee Nick LaLota dissenting. LaLota, who had sponsored the original resolution, said he felt there are “other choices that could be made, comp time or with other creative solutions.”
Siry said the use of comp time was discussed, but because of union rules, employees cannot be told which day to take off using their comp time.
Siry said the village will still recognize Patriot Day and hold events to honor those who lost their lives, including a moment of silence at the times when the two hijacked planes hit the Twin Towers.