Oct 18, 2021 - News
Denver poised to give belated incentives for vaccinations
Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock speaks at the Colorado Convention Center on Sept. 22.
Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock speaks at the Colorado Convention Center on Sept. 22. Photo: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Mayor Michael Hancock may have his way after all.

What's happening: City employees who are vaccinated against COVID-19 or received an exemption could soon receive bonuses for complying with the Hancock administration's vaccine mandate.

The Denver City Council is expected to approve the plan next Monday night — though narrowly — council members tell Axios.

Why it matters: After twice delaying a vote to advance Hancock's proposal, based on a number of concerns, city council members have ultimately bowed to his wishes, proving the mayor's might.

Details: Pending council approval, the proposal pulls $5 million from the city budget to provide $400 bonuses in November to more than 7,000 vaccinated employees who got their shots by the Hancock administration's Sept. 30 deadline.

  • It would also give $400 bonuses to the 650-plus employees who received exemptions — so long as they don't violate the city's public health order through Dec. 10, including mask wearing and regular COVID testing at work.
  • The bonuses will be available for full-time, part-time, uniformed and on-call employees at the end of the year.
  • The mayor, city council members and staffers who worked from home aren't eligible.

What else: Under the latest proposal, council will allocating $8 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to give up to $2,500 to city workers who served in-person on the frontlines, before COVID-19 vaccines were available.

  • Those eligible include police officers and firefighters.

Catch up quick: Council members slammed the braked when the proposal first came up at a Sept. 14 committee meeting and it was revealed that the mayor's plan was publicly proposed without any prior notice to them.

  • They also raised questions about whether city workers who dodged the vaccine by obtaining a religious exemption should be recognized and compensated.
  • The mayor's office was ultimately responsive to council members concerns, incorporating a provision that vaccine-exempt employees need to comply with Denver public-health orders related to mask wearing and testing through Dec. 10 to get paid.

The big picture: Other cities in Colorado have enacted similar rewards programs for their workforce.

  • Aurora paid police and fire personnel roughly $200 per pay period in hazard pay for work between March and November last year, totaling $2.6 million, 9News reports.
  • Lakewood compensated more than 400 employees for two months of hazard pay, worth $212,000.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that council members will hold a final vote next Monday, Oct. 25 (not this Monday, Oct. 18).

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