FAIRHOPE – Fairhope volunteer firefighters and city public library employees will receive cash payments if they get the COVID-19 vaccinations by Nov. 30 under a plan approved by the City Council.
The council voted 3-1 to approve a resolution to provide the incentives to firefighters and library employees if they are vaccinated. The council voted Aug. 9 to approve the same incentives for other city employees.
Employees who were vaccinated before the resolution was passed will also receive the incentive, city officials said. The Aug. 23 resolution also set a deadline of Nov. 30 for workers to be vaccinated in order to receive the incentive payment.
Councilman Jay Robinson voted against the motion on Aug. 23. Councilman Kevin Boone was absent.
Full-time library employees will receive $500 if they choose to be vaccinated. Part-time workers will be paid $250. Volunteer firefighters will receive $250 as on-call, part-time city workers, according to the resolution.
The money will be paid from funds provided by the federal American Rescue Plan, according to city officials.
Council President Jack Burrell said firefighters and library workers should be included in the incentive plan.
“I can’t think of a better way to use that than to incentivize the first responders that have to, due to an emerging situation, have to come into contact with people and then, of course, if you work at the library, you’re always having to come into contact with the public,” Burrell said.
Mayor Sherry Sullivan said the response to the incentive plan for other city workers has been good since the plan was passed Aug. 9.
“I think that it’s been positive for the most part,” Sullivan said. “We are not asking the employees if they have taken the vaccine or not. Obviously, that’s their choice. We are letting the supervisors verify because we feel like that’s kind of their family unit. For the most part, the comments have been positive. We have not had any conflict. I think everybody’s really respectful of each other.”
She said she spoke to Volunteer Fire Department members about the incentive plan and most supported the proposal.
Burrell said the plan is voluntary and workers who do not choose to be vaccinated will not be penalized.
“This is not a penalty if you don’t get a COVID vaccination, but it’s an incentive if you do,” Burrell said. “We’re not forcing you to get one. We want to make that very clear. You’re not being required to get one. That’s a personal choice, but if you do, you will get that incentive payout.”
Sullivan said at the Aug. 9 meeting that the incentive plan and a separate resolution to pay bonuses to employees who worked during the pandemic will cost less than $300,000. She said at that time that since the city is self-insured, the expenses of treating employees’ illnesses, however, is a direct cost to Fairhope.
During the Aug. 9 meeting, two residents expressed opposition to the incentive proposal. No audience members addressed the council on the issue on Aug. 23.