Frederick Aldermen Considering Vaccine Incentive Program For City Employees

It will be discussed during Wednesday’s workshop.

Frederick, Md (KM) An incentive to get Frederick City employees vaccinated against COVID-19 will be discussed on Wednesday, October 13th during a Board of Aldermen Workshop.

Under the proposal, full time employees will receive a $1,000 one-pay payment for getting their shots, and part time workers will receive $500.

The money  comes from Frederick’s share of the $1.9-trillion American Rescue Plan Act, a stimulus bill to assist public health and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The law includes $350-billion in emergency funding for state, local,  territorial and tribal government.  The City of Frederick is receiving $10.6-million from this program. It has already started  receiving $5.3-million, with the rest coming in 2022, according to the background materials for Wednesday’s meeting.

The Board of Aldermen had discussed this proposal at last Thursday’s meeting.   Mayor Michael O’Connor, who chaired the meeting, had hoped the Board would vote on it that night.  He said it’s a way to get more people vaccinated and bring the COVID-19 pandemic to an end. “Very high interest in vaccination when the vaccines were first available,”: he said. “But now, that interest has waned. But we’re not as a community, we’re not as a country, we’re not as a world where we need to be. So how do we get to the next level.”

Alderman Ben MacShane was wondering how effective this financial incentive would be in motivating employees to roll up their sleeves. “It’s not about value. It’s not about how deserves this. It’s not about who works hard. It’s about is this the best way or even an  all that productive of a way to increase vaccination rate, or is it not,” he says.

Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak says she’s worried about the cost. “I don’t have a problem with an incentive,” Kuzemchak said. “It’s going to cover everybody; people who got vaccinated at the very beginning; people who got vaccinated all along. I don’t have a problem with an incentive. A thousand dollars seems way to high with me.”

The cost of the incentive program is $650,000.

Alderwoman Kelly Russell says she support the program. “I could suggest maybe it would    maybe it could be higher,” she said.  But Russell continued, it’s about keeping residents and employees safe. “If we don’t staff that can man our wastewater treatment plant, and our water treatment plant and all of those things, then our city is not safe.”

On Wednesday, the Aldermen will also discuss a memorandum of understanding with the Fraternal Order of Police Francis Scott Key Lodge #91 which represents Frederick City Police Officers, and  would  provides $1,000 one-pay payments to sworn officers and student officers to encourage them to get their COVID-19 shots.

Other projects being considered for the $10.6-million in federal funds include expansion of the Frederick Police Crisis Car Program and additional body worn cameras for officers; design for a 24-hour public restroom at the Carroll Creek Linear Park; expansion of cameras in public spaces; water and sewer utility assistance grants; small, minority and women-owned business recovery counseling; shelter improvements for the homeless; and soup kitchen and community garden improvements.

After the Workshop on Wednesday, the Aldermen are expected to take vote at their Thursday, October 21st meeting.

By Kevin McManus