After 35 years as an employee with the city of Ashville, clerk Bertha Wilson worked her final day Monday, and also attended her final council meeting as clerk. But the final council meeting was bittersweet, with tense moments of discussion as to whether Wilson deserved 160 hours of accrued vacation time for 2012.
The council ultimately tabled the action until a later date.
Mayor Robert McKay said he would not sign the check for Wilson until someone could prove to him that it was due.
“That is the 160 vacation hours you and the council approved at the Oct. 16, 2012 council meeting,” Wilson said. “You recommended that it be approved.”
“Let me clarify,” McKay said. “At the last meeting, you asked to get your four weeks vacation for 2012. As of Jan. 1 of (2011), everyone got four weeks vacation added.”
“That was for the prior year,” Wilson said. “We get vacation in arrears. What I am asking for now is for this year — Jan. 1, 2012, until now.”
“I respectfully disagree” McKay said. “I’ve never worked anywhere where if you have used up your vacation and you get four more weeks for the next year.”
“I already have it accrued mayor,” Wilson said.
“I don’t think it is right,” McKay said. “I’m sorry.”
Wilson said she thought the council should vote on it.
“It is a council issue, which has already been approved at the last meeting,” Wilson said.
“What it is, is basically giving you vacation for 2013,” McKay said. “My signature is not going on that check. I‘m sorry.
“It can be brought up at a later date. If someone can prove to me that it is due; I’m not out to take anything that is due. I haven’t found anybody that really thinks it is due.”
New councilman Charles Tipton wanted to know when the issue was going to be clarified.
“Well, when someone can clarify that it is due or not,” McKay said.
“We are going to run into this with other people later on,” Tipton said. “We have to treat everybody the same.”
Tipton then asked if the council would override what the last council did at the October meeting concerning Wilson’s vacation hours.
“Seems to me that what we’re doing is overriding what the council has already voted on,” Tipton said.
“I was sitting here and I was under the assumption that it was for 2012,” McKay said.
Councilman Charles Williams said he thought Wilson deserved the time because they agreed on it.
“I was completely blindsided and misled by the fact that it was anything to do with 2013,” McKay said. “Not one time did I think this was some kind of arrear thing. I don’t think it is right. I don’t think it has been earned.
“I’ve asked about 100 people, and I haven’t found anybody yet who believes it is the legitimate thing to do. I hate to be crude, but I’m not signing that check.”
Councilman Derrick Mostella wanted to know if there were personnel records of time they could check that Wilson had worked this year, to which Wilson said yes.
“It’s a black and white issue to me,” Mostella said. “Either she has accrued the time or she hasn’t. To me, there has to be an easy way to say it is there or it is not.”
McKay said it is an issue they can bring up at a later time because he did not want to get bogged down with it right now.
Williams made the motion to table the issue until a later date. The council approved the motion.