A split vote saw the Powder Springs City Council this week approve incentive payments to city employees who get the COVID-19 vaccine.
All 76 of the city’s employees will now be eligible for a $500 payment if they receive the shot by Dec. 15. The incentive is also retroactive to employees who have previously been vaccinated.
The initial vote on the item was 2-2, with Mayor Al Thurman ultimately breaking the tie in favor of the resolution. Council members Patricia Wisdom and Nancy Farmer said they couldn’t support the measure.
“I just don’t think it’s fair and equitable … I think this is a choice that God gives us as human beings. We can inform ourselves and make educated and informed decisions, and then we have to make a choice, and we have to stand by the consequences of our choice,” Wisdom said.
Added Farmer, “To me it sounds more like a bribe … if you want to take it, take it. If you don’t, don’t. Don’t try to twist the hands of the pocketbook of the staff that they need to do it because they need the money.”
Wisdom jumped in again to say she fully supported continuing city-sponsored vaccine outreach events and educational programs.
“I think that it’s kind of a slow process, but we need to patiently work with people as much as we can,” she said.
Council members Doris Dawkins and Henry Lust, meanwhile, cast their votes in favor of the incentive. Patrick Bordelon was not present for the meeting.
In other business, the council approved pay raises for a number of city employees.
Like other local governments in Cobb, Powder Springs says it’s suffering from recruitment and retention issues in its workforce. Also like its peers, the city turned to a consultant in search of answers. After six months, Evergreen Solutions determined the city’s workers were making about 10% less than the market average, per a draft report on its findings.
To begin addressing that shortfall, council members approved a 3% raise for sanitation workers, public works truck drivers and maintenance workers. Police officers—and one billing clerk—meanwhile received a 5% increase.
City spokesperson Jon Gargis told the MDJ the latest raises are on top of an average 5% raise approved as part of the city’s budget cycle in July. Those raises cost about $175,000, and the additional raises passed Monday will put another $96,000 hit on the city’s general fund.