Bexley city employees will be able to take 12 weeks of paid leave -- with 10 of those weeks partially funded by the city -- after the birth or adoption of a child.

Bexley City Council on May 11 7-0 to approve Ordinance 20-20, which amends a section of the city's code to allow city employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act based on the birth or adoption of a child, with the city paying 50% of employees' pay for 10 weeks.

Kessler and city auditor Bill Harvey said the parental-leave policy would be funded by each department's budget for the year.

"There's not a direct financial corollary that we have to budget for, but there could be an instance when we have to pull from overtime budgets" to compensate employees who cover for those who are out on leave, Kessler said.

"There will be no additional cost for the parental leave. The money will come from the existing payroll budget. We will just pay the employee, but they will not work those few days," Harvey said.

The city's previous parental-leave policy offered employees the ability to take up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave, but the employees had to use their own vacation or sick time for the entire leave, Kessler said previously.

Under the new policy, employees would use accrued leave time for the first two weeks of paid leave. After that, employees would be allowed to take an additional 10 weeks of leave under the FMLA, with the city paying 50% of their pay and the employee using accrued leave for the remainder.

Council member Troy Markham, chairman of the finance committee and the member who introduced Ordinance 20-20, said he has received positive feedback from residents.

"All of us (council members) sitting up here are parents, and I think we can appreciate having that time after the birth of your child and to give that opportunity to our employees," Markham said.

In other business at the May 11 meeting, council member Jessica Saad, zoning and development committee chairwoman, said that at council's next meeting scheduled for Tuesday, May 26, council plans to discuss and possibly vote on Ordinance 11-20, which, if approved, would place restrictions on Airbnb and other short-term rentals.

After Saad introduced the legislation at council's Feb. 25 meeting, council held a second reading March 10 and then voted to table the legislation March 24, when council began meeting remotely via Zoom because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

"What we wanted to do was table this ordinance until we became acclimated with how to run council meetings and how to make sure the voice of the community and the public were heard," Saad said. "We feel that we are in a place now where this has become our new normal and we've adjusted, and this is a very important ordinance to move forward on."

City Council member Lori Ann Feibel said council's recent meetings on the Zoom platform have enabled residents to speak on issues of importance.

"We have mastered Zoom. We see that our public is participating," Feibel said. "Their ability to participate seems pretty easy for most. I am feeling very comfortable in voting on something that in the past has been a bit controversial."

Ordinance 11-20 would require homeowners who rent their houses for short-term stays to maintain the house being rented as their principal residence, limit rentals to a combined total of 30 days throughout the year and a maximum of two occupants per bedroom, register with the city for a fee yet to be determined, and not allow the rental to be used for parties, events or gatherings in excess of 15 people.

Council's May 26 meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at Bexley City Hall, 2242 E. Main St. Kessler said the public is encouraged to participate via Zoom at bexley.org to adhere to social-distancing guidelines.

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