Fayetteville could relaunch vaccine incentive program, create COVID sick leave bank for city employees

Fayetteville Government Channel

UPDATE: This item was passed unanimously at the Jan. 18 City Council meeting.

FAYETTEVILLE — Mayor Lioneld Jordan recommends relaunching the city’s cash incentive program to encourage more people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Like the previous measure, Jordan wants anyone who lives or works in the city to be eligible to receive a $100 payment for becoming fully vaccinated over the next two weeks.

The original incentive ended Nov. 1, but over half of the $400,000 the council appropriated from federal American Rescue Plan money is still available, said Missy Cole, the city’s human resources director. Funding for the new incentive would come from the leftover $236,900.

The eligibility period for becoming vaccinated would begin Jan. 18, and end on March 18, and would not include booster vaccinations.

The item (PDF here) is on the City Council’s consent agenda for its Tuesday meeting, which means it won’t include any discussion before a vote is taken unless the item is removed from consent by a council member.

The resolution would also create a COVID-19 sick leave bank to pay city employees who test positive for the virus and miss work. The leave bank would provide compensation for 40 hours of quarantine for those who cannot work from home, regardless of their vaccination status.

“Most of our employees have the capability of working from home, so those would not require (use of) the sick bank,” said Paul Becker, the city’s chief financial officer. “Essentially, the bank would be used by individuals who do not have the ability for telework.”

Funding for the leave bank would come from up to $200,000 of the city’s general fund, Becker said.

The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act provided city employees with up to 80 hours of leave for COVID-related absences, but that bank expired at the end of 2020, meaning employees had to use their own personal sick days in 2021 if they tested positive for the virus.

“We wanted to bring that back and encourage folks who are unvaccinated to be vaccinated, and also to set up a leave bank in case we have a lot of city employees that come down with covid-19,” Jordan told council members at the Jan. 11 agenda-setting session.

The council’s next meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 18.