Youngstown City Council decides on coronavirus vaccine bonus, considers next steps

Local News

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The idea of giving Youngstown City employees $1,000 to be vaccinated is dead for now — and possibly dead for good.

What seemed to some like a good idea on Monday did not receive a lot of support at Wednesday evening’s city council meeting. So, $1,000 incentive was sent to a second reading.

Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown and First Ward Councilman Julius Oliver were in agreement at the city council meeting on proposed legislation to create $1,000 rewards for the city’s 700 employees to be vaccinated.

“I think it’s excessive monies to use for that. I would like to see us really invest more in our healthcare,” Brown said.

“I think it was unnecessary. I think the money could be better spent in another way,” said Oliver.

West side resident Jere Beulah showed up because he didn’t think $1,000 bonuses were a good use of taxpayer money.

“I think that this is irresponsible for this legislation to even come forward,” Beulah said.

“I support the goal that it had. The intent that it was trying to do,” said Councilwoman Lauren McNally.

McNally says the city, which is now self-insured, had $300,000 of COVID-related health expenses from February to April and that concerns her.

“We have to figure out a way to keep those medical costs, those medical bills at reasonable levels, levels that that we can afford,” she said.

During the meeting, Mayor Brown indicated he may go well beyond financial incentives. Once the FDA gives full approval to the Moderna vaccine, he may make them mandatory for all city employees.

“That will give us all the opportunity to propose legislature to mandate that in the city of Youngstown. We are not sure yet what the penalty phase will be, so we will be researching that and we will share that with members of council as we see fit,” Brown said.

City council also appointed Tracey Oats to fill one of Youngstown’s positions on the board of the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District. Oats is currently a staff representative for the AFSCME.

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