Richmond city employees will not have to take all but one week of their vacations in one-week blocks.

On Tuesday, two weeks after it revamped vacation and sick-leave policies for employees, the city commission restored some flexibility to their vacation plan.

Beginning Jan. 1, employees may take 40 hours of their vacation time in increments of one hour or less and the remainder in eight-hour increments.

The policy adopted two weeks earlier would have required all but 40 hours on an employee’s vacation be taken in 40-hour blocks.

Requiring 40-hour increments for up to half of an employee’s vacation was intended to improve efficiency, Mayor Jim Barnes said when that policy was adopted. On Tuesday, the mayor said input from employees and department heads had convinced him that one-day rather than one-week increments would work to the advantage of both management and employees.

The policy amendment was adopted 4-1 with Commissioner Robert Blythe opposed. Blythe said he could not vote for the new policy because it still contained objectionable provisions that led him to oppose the previous version. Commissioner Jason Morgan, who had voted with Blythe two weeks earlier, said he favored the change because it was in employees’ interest.

The policy still prevents employees from carrying forward vacation or sick leave not used in a 12-month period. It also limits employees options to “cash in” previously accumulated sick leave.

During a work session prior to the meeting, some confusion arose about how to calculate the 12 months after which vacation and sick leave would be forfeited. Barnes said he believed it should be forfeited on Dec. 31 to simplify calculation. Others asked how that would apply to new hires who would not be eligible for vacation until they had worked 12 months. The issue may lead to another revision of the policy.

In other action, the commission accepted the resignation of Mike Broyles, the city finance director for the past 10 years. He has accepted a similar position with Richmond Utilities but agreed to remain at City Hall until a replacement is hired. Interim City Manager Jimmy Howard said the opening was being advertised with a Dec. 7 application deadline.

Howard, the mayor and commissioners each expressed praise and gratitude for Broyles, especially for his assistance to the interim city manager and then new mayor and commissions who took office during a time of fiscal stress for the city.

“I don’t know what I would have done without Mike Broyles,” said Howard, who became interim city manager in September, 2009.

Barnes said the city’s Oct. 1 financial report showed it $475,000 in the black.

“We’ve got more work to do,” the mayor said, “but, we’re making progress and headed in the right direction.”

The commission also voted to hire Kevin Causey as a planning and zoning inspector at $17.54 an hour and to advertise for sealed bids on two small parcels of city property. One, at 1212 Steep St., once was the location of a utility pumping station, and the city will retain easements for water and gas lines under the property. The other is a one-acre tract between S. Keeneland Drive deeded by developers to the city as a water tower site. Richmond Utilities no longer needs either property, said Scott Althauser, utilities superintendent.

During the comment period at the meeting’s end, Blythe said the public should know that most discussion of issues takes place during the work sessions that begin at 4:30 p.m. prior to regular 6 p.m. commission meetings on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month and at 1 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays.

Except for executive sessions, the meetings are open but not televised on the city’s cable channel.

Bill Robinson can be reached at brobinson@ richmondregister.com or at 624-6622.

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