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Dubuque city manager scraps COVID-19 incentive program for city employees

Published: Feb. 1, 2021 at 11:16 PM CST
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Michael Van Milligen, Dubuque’s city manager, struck down a program to encourage city employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine before even bringing it up at Monday night’s city council meeting.

The program was meant to give a $100 incentive to city employees. However, instead of cash, it would have been a $100 gift certificate usable at locally-owned restaurants and non-profits.

Van Milligen said, though, he spent the weekend answering emails from citizens who were not happy with the program he was proposing. He said some citizens thought this would allow city employees to cut in line for the vaccine.

“The incentive would just be paid when the person got the vaccine, so they would not get any sort of priority status in line,” Van Milligen said. “But most people did not have that misunderstanding.”

Van Milligen said most of the emails he responded to were from people who did not agree with spending up to $75,000 in taxpayer money on this program.

”I know the importance of getting our community to herd immunity,” Van Milligen said. “I thought this was a creative way to help make that happen.”

Van Milligen said the reason why they decided to put together a plan like this was that, nationally, they had seen places like businesses and health care facilities struggling with achieving 100 percent vaccination rates.

For now, he said they will focus on education as a tool to persuade more city employees into getting the vaccine.

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