City employees and fans of First Thursday came out ahead after Tuesday night’s regular meeting of the Fayetteville City Council.
In separate, unanimously-approved decisions, council members voted to give all permanent city employees a one-time “service award” bonus, and to expand the footprint of the monthly First Thursday event.
Full-time employees will receive a $500 check to recognize successful cost-cutting measures, and to serve as a token of appreciation for dealing with difficult economic times. Permanent part-time employees will also receive prorated bonuses.
Additionally, merit increases to city employees whose wages were frozen in July 2009 will be restored.
Although council members admitted the awards are not a complete compensation for a two-year wage and hiring freeze, they agreed that it was necessary to show some support.
“If you look at the cost containment in every department, it is exceptional,” said Ward 2 alderman Mark Kinion. “This at least lets the employees know how much we appreciate that.”
“In addition to saving money, they’ve been willing to pick up the slack,” said Ward 1 alderwoman Adella Gray in reference to 23 full-time positions that remain unfilled due to a hiring freeze. “This is a way of saying ‘thank you’ for that.”
First Thursday expansion
Beginning in May, First Thursday Fayetteville will include twice as much street space as before.
Barring scheduling conflicts with events held in the Town Center, First Thursday organizers now have the option of closing off Mountain Street between East Avenue and Block Avenue as well as the parking spaces on both sides of the street.
City officials said the monthly outdoor art walk has reached its capacity and is ready to expand. Until now, only East Avenue was closed to vehicle traffic during the event.
Alderman Bobby Ferrell asked event director Brian Bailey if all of the affected business owners around the square were OK with giving up another street’s worth of parking spaces between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month.
Bailey said he received only positive feedback after letters detailing the proposal were personally delivered.
Ward 1 Alderwoman Adella Gray announced the selections for several open board and committee positions, as recommended by the City Council Nominating Committee. The Council approved the nominations unanimously.
In other business, an ordinance to allow pedicab usage on some streets and city trails was left on the first reading. Also left on the first reading was an ordinance to allow advertising on pedicabs and an ordinance to disallow advertising on taxicabs.