Fort Wayne City Council tabled a proposal from Mayor Tom Henry that would offer paid parental leave for city employees Tuesday night.
In the 7-1 vote, Republican at-large councilman Michael Barranda says the proposal isn’t “budget neutral,” noting that if city dollars are added to the budget in order to fund the program, there should be conversations between Henry and members of Council.
“You gave us a lot of platitudes about, the kids are worth it, the children are worth it, those GFW scholars are worth it, the citizens are worth it," Barranda said. "Well if those people are all 'worth it' to do these things, then it’s worth it for the administration to sit down with any one of us and say, ‘You know what, let’s prepare a budget together and work together.’”
Birth and adoptive parents would be eligible for 120 hours of paid family leave under Henry’s proposal, to be taken within the first 12 weeks of a birth or adoption. The City of Fort Wayne has previously projected a cost of “no more than $100,000” to cover non-union employees.
Republican First District councilman Paul Ensley agrees the measure should be part of a larger budget discussion, and says the proposal tells him there are positions worth cutting at the city level.
“The only inference that I could draw from that is that we have positions that are so unessential to the city that you can leave for three weeks, and nobody has to do any of your work, or anyone that is going to do your work has so little work to do they can fit that into their 40-hour work week,” Ensley said.
City director of intergovernmental affairs Stephanie Crandall cited Governor Eric Holcomb’s executive order from December giving 30,000 state employees paid family leave as the motive for Henry’s proposal. She says the policy would have an instant impact on current staff.
“There are people that are hoping this will go through because this does help relieve a stress that they have, especially at the same time as bringing in a child,” Crandall said.
“Sounds like we have some incentive to expedite those meetings,” Barranda replied.
Tabling the bill doesn’t kill it; it delays the bill until further conversations take place and can be revived at a later date. Henry typically unveils his budget proposal in September.