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Proposal could benefit city employees in military

One part holiday spirit, one part patriotism: those are the ingredients in the recipe for a new policy proposal coming before the Federal Way City Council this month.

If passed, the so-called “active military shared leave” provision would allow soldiers who are city employees called to serve their country to collect their full paycheck if other city employees donate their own unused vacation time.

At its Nov. 28 meeting, the city finance commission advanced to the proposal where it will be reviewed by the full council on Dec. 18.

Assistant City Manager Derek Matheson was optimistic the new policy would clear a council vote, saying he was pleased the city is able to show support for those serving the nation.

“All over the country Americans are pulling together to support one another during this war. This policy is a way for city employees to pull together and support their own,” Matheson said.

Affected employees will be able to get up to half of their regular pay for every pay period on up to six paychecks. But the borrowed vacation pay can only be used to supplement military pay to allow an employee to get 100 percent of his regular pay, no extra.

“Most cities don’t do this,” he added. “This is a way for Federal Way to break new ground in supporting employees who serve their country.”

During the last major mobilization of the nation’s armed forces — the Gulf War in the early 1990s — Federal Way had recently incorporated and had few employees. Now with nearly 300 employees, the city is taking time to reflect on the impact of soldiers’ service, Matheson said. Donations don’t cost the city much besides vacation hours they’d have given anyway, he added.The provision would apply to employees ordered to report for active military duty in a significant military event and is unable to perform the duties of his or her City position may be eligible to receive donated hours. This may include an employee who is a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and other services.

Presently, the city has two reservists who have been called to active duty in the U.S Coast Guard. They could not be reached for comment. But others, such as assistant building official Joan Hermle, could also be called up.

Hermle, a captain in the U.S. Army National Guard, said she was pleased with the city plan.

“This shared-leave program is great.

“It shows a certain amount of commitment from the city to the soldiers who work here, Hermle said.

“I’m 100 percent behind everybody. I just hope the patriotism continues,” she said. “I hope it doesn’t go away.”

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