MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — City of Charlotte employees will soon receive cash incentives for getting fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with some workers being eligible for up to $600 in bonuses to take the free vaccine.
Mayor Vi Lyles said she hopes to keep employees working and be able to serve the community in a safe way. This is why city workers will get paid $250 if they've been fully vaccinated or get vaccinated by Sept. 30. If 75% of the city's workforce is vaccinated by that date, all inoculated employees would then get an additional $250.
That's on top of the $100 the state is currently paying everyone who gets the vaccine.
Some members of the Charlotte City Council wonder if all that money will actually make a difference, questioning if someone who has decided against the vaccine would be swayed by $250.
"It's very expensive," said Councilman Ed Driggs. "If somebody hasn't gotten the shot already, given how easy it's been to get it, then I wonder if they're going to be persuaded by $250 to get the shot."
Lyles thinks there's a good chance.
"This could impact a family, especially at that amount of money," Lyles said.
The incentive could cost the city around $3 million, which would come from roughly $11 million set aside for city operations from the American Rescue Plan.
The city estimates the individual vaccine reward will cost around $1.5 million. The team vaccine reward would cost up to another $1.5 million.
So far, roughly 1,000 city employees have battled COVID-19 with 800 of them visiting the hospital. That has cost the city $2.8 million in health care costs. City staff says the incentive would save the city money in the long run.
The city also plans to start paying hazard pay again to front-line workers. They will get a 5% increase in their pay for the next eight weeks.
City workers will also get seven days of emergency medical leave in case they get sick with the virus or someone in their family tests positive and they need to quarantine.
The premium pay and emergency leave benefits would cost the city about $2-3 million.
City Manager Marcus Jones wants to see if the list of incentives works before mandating vaccines for all employees.
The city is conducting a vaccine verification survey. It's due Tuesday for workers, but so far shows 66% of city workers are vaccinated.