Juneteenth may soon become a DuPage County holiday. County board members discussed the possibility of adding June 19 to its 2021 holiday schedule at this morning’s meeting.
In Favor Of Adding Juneteenth
Board member Elizabeth Chaplin believes DuPage County can be a leader by adopting Juneteenth as a county holiday.
“I think this an important [and] a good opportunity for the county to endorse our inclusion and diversity pillar in our strategic plan that we put last November,” said Chapin. “I also think it’s a great opportunity for our employees, [and] everybody, to learn about the significance of Juneteenth.”
In 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation was signed freeing all slaves. However, the order was not enforced by all states until after the Civil War had ended. Finally, on June 19, 1865, Union soldiers in Galveston, Texas, informed slave owners the war was over, and that the enslaved were now free, thus creating Juneteenth, or Freedom Day.
All board members who spoke were in agreement with Chaplin that the day should be celebrated, but some were concerned about the financial costs of adding another holiday to the schedule.
“I have asked staff to give me an estimate of what it would to get all of our employees a day off, and the number I was given was $791,834. Approximately another $40,000 in overtime and that does not include the health department,” said Board Member Sam Tornatore. “While I can concede the holiday is important for all of us I am concerned about what this does to our budget.”
Tornatore admits he hesitated to speak up out of fear of potential backlash, but said it was purely an economic concern.
Questions about what facilities in the county would be open, the process of making a day into a county holiday, and DuPage already having a maximum amount of holidays in the calendar led some to agree the discussion should be tabled so more information can be learned.
“The thought is great, but I don’t think we see the ramifications of what it does here fiscally to us with our overtime costs,” said Board Member James Zay. “People seem to forget we have many places that during holidays get time and half. Jail, wastewater treatment people, [and] the care centers… So I’d like to see a little bit more discussion and thought about it.”
There’s currently 11 dates on the county’s 2021 holiday schedule. Those include: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving and the day after, and Christmas Day.
Board member Chaplin, who initially sparked the conversation of adding Juneteenth to the county’s 2021 holiday schedule, agreed with Zay and the agenda item has been tabled for the July 14 county board meeting.
Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.
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