Tuscaloosa City Council considers COVID-19 related bonuses and incentives for employees

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 10:22 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox would like to reward city employees for their work during the pandemic and WBRC talked to several city councilors in favor of that.

But there’s less agreement about paying city workers to get vaccinated for coronavirus.

Mayor Maddox wants to spend $2 million that the federal government gave the city through the American Rescue Plan to give a bonus to city employees who worked through the pandemic. That heroes bonus is separate from a plan to pay $250 to city workers who get vaccinated.

“I had COVID pneumonia. No one paid me to get the shot. I got the shot because of the fact I wanted to help mitigate this virus and decrease it,” City Councilman Matthew Wilson told WBRC.

Around 62 per cent of city workers have not been vaccinated according to information provided to the city council. Some have argued that the more workers who are vaccinated for COVID-19, the less time some of them could be off if they tested positive through a breakthrough case.

“I think that’s the most pragmatic argument the mayor has for paying the bonuses. Its neither pro nor anti vaccine. It’s let’s not try to spend more money hiring substitutes or paying overtime. That’s valid, we think, but there’s no gap. There’s no data we have to show that,” Councilman Lee Busby expressed.

Paying that $250 vaccine incentive to the more 1,300 Tuscaloosa city workers could cost more than $325,000.

“The reaction I’m getting from my constituents, the public is not in favor of, the majority are not in favor of the vaccination bonus. They feel you should get it or not get it with any type of bonus,” Councilman Kip Tyner continued.

The city council could vote on the heroes bonus as early as tonight’s city council meeting.

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