Macon-Bibb workers to get COVID-19 vaccination incentives totaling up to $800K

Commissioners approved $500 for full-time employees, $250 for part-timers with funds from American Rescue Plan



Macon-Bibb County workers who show proof of COVID-19 vaccination by Sept. 30 can receive $250 for part-time employees and $500 for full-timers.

Macon-Bibb County full-time workers, who show proof of COVID-19 vaccination by the end of September, will get $500. Part-time workers can pocket $250 if they present vaccine documentation by the deadline.

Commissioners approved the incentives Tuesday night after Mayor Lester Miller outlined $5.2 million in coronavirus expenses the county has incurred. Miller believes using up to $800,000 from the American Rescue Plan will actually save county tax dollars.

Commissioners Al Tillman and Valerie Wynn voted against the measure.

Tillman said the commission shouldn’t have to pay adults and Wynn agreed that employees should get the shot because “it’s the right thing to do” and called the measure “bribery.”

Both also doubted the money would convince those who have not gotten the shot yet.

“There was a $25 million bounty on Osama Bin Laden and nobody turned him,” said Tillman, who favored a vaccination mandate instead.

Wynn also questioned why this incentive pay was legal if commissioners were not allowed to give workers a bonus for working through lockdowns last year.

Senior County Attorney Michael McNeill explained that since the federal American Rescue Plan specifies the money can be used for incentives, it supersedes the state constitution that outlaws gratuities.

McNeill also said that this concerns future behavior, submitting paperwork to Human Resources, and is not considered a gratuity. Gratuities are rewards for past work, he said.

Commissioner Mallory Jones said he is totally against mandates.  He would vote against spending from the county’s general fund for incentives, but supported it since the federal money is “falling from the sky” right now.

Commissioner Elaine Lucas said she would vote for the incentive “a bunch of times,” if she could, as she worries about the Delta variant of the deadly virus.

“We are in an emergency,” Lucas said. “We are fortunate that we do have this option because we could just keep begging and pleading with folks to do the right thing and it’s obvious that hasn’t worked.”

County employees will receive instructions on how to apply for the extra money, which will be taxed but not considered part of their salary for pension calculations.

During Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners also learned about a television production filming downtown Friday, Monday and Aug. 12.  They denied the alcohol license for Tom’s Mart at 1224 Gray Highway.

Here are Twitter highlights from the meeting: