Cary News

Morrisville joins Cary, Apex in proposing paid parental leave

Morrisville’s Town Council is considering a policy granting six weeks of paid parental leave to town employees who become new parents, joining a growing number of area communities that offer or are discussing whether to offer the benefit.

Councilwoman Vicki Scroggins-Johnson introduced the measure at a council roundtable, a monthly work session held toward the end of every other council meeting.

The rest of the council spoke positively about the idea, but some said details, such as the cost to the town and eligibility requirements, would require further discussion.

Cary became the first Wake County municipality to offer paid parental leave to town employees in January, and Apex is debating whether to adopt a similar policy. The Wake County government extended paid parental leave to its employees in November.

Scroggins-Johnson’s proposal, though, would recognize the introduction of a stepchild into the family as a “qualifying event,” the term used to determine whether an employee would be eligible for the benefit. That caught the attention of several Morrisville council members.

Cary’s and Wake County’s policies, as well as the federal Family Medical Leave Act, do not recognize a new stepchild as an occasion for leave.

“Some of these are pretty obvious – a newborn, an adopted child, a foster child,” Mayor Mark Stohlman said. “But a stepchild – take me through a scenario where someone has a new family, a 12-year-old or a 13-year-old. Would they get six weeks off to spend time with that new stepchild?”

Council members said they would like to review other towns’ policies and continue to pursue writing a proposal.

“The pros are retention and morale for employees,” Councilman TJ Cawley. “The con on that is with how we run such a lean organization, how that puts pressure on the staff. This is definitely something to look more into.”

Morrisville employs 170 full-time, benefit-eligible employees. The policy proposed Tuesday would be extended to those with at least a year of service to the town, which could mean the number of employees currently eligible may be slightly lower.

Other business

Morrisville Police Chief Patrice Andrews introduced a proposal Tuesday for parking enforcement that would include fines and the standardization of parking rules and signage.

Ticketable offenses would include all parking violations established by North Carolina statute, such as parking in front of a fire hydrant or in a handicap space without a permit, as well as municipal parking violations. Those include, among other things, blocking a private driveway and parking with the driver-side door facing the street, both of which would be eligible for a $50 fine.

Now, she said, neighborhoods and their homeowners associations have a series of parking regulations marked by signs that aren’t always consistent with each other or easy to read.

Like most towns of its size, Morrisville doesn’t have dedicated parking enforcement staff. As part of the town’s upcoming budget discussions, Andrews will ask the town to contract with a third-party parking enforcement agency. That company would be tasked with writing tickets and assessing fines between $15 and $100, as well as handling appeals from drivers.

“We’re hoping that July 1, 2017, is when the proposed amendment would take effect,” she said. “But there will be a continual education campaign, and actual enforcement would not begin until Aug. 16.”

A public hearing on the proposed amendment will be held at the Town Council’s Feb. 28 meeting.

Gargan: 919-829-4807; @hgargan