The Hoboken Rescue Plan, the city’s latest $13.2 million COVID-19 relief strategy, could allow any municipal employee who is vaccinated, or who plan on doing so in the near future, to receive $1,000 for “leading by example.”
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
The Mile Square City’s local relief plan will bolster their coronavirus response, provide, rent relief, alternative transportation, infrastructure improvements, and much more, as HCV first reported.
One allocation that stands out as unique is $600,000 in financial incentives for municipal workers to get inoculated. If the plan as a whole is approved by the city council tomorrow, this would allow a $1,000 payment per employee, city spokeswoman Marilyn Baer said.
“In an effort to increase local vaccination rates, the city is proposing a financial vaccine incentive similar to many other regions across the United States. If approved, all full-time employees who have been vaccinated or who will get vaccinated in the near future will be eligible to receive $1,000,” she said in an email.
“Throughout the pandemic, our employees were the model of leadership and consistency, working tirelessly to maintain city services at a high level. We are asking them once again to be a model and lead by example by getting vaccinated. The overwhelming majority of serious COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions, and COVID-related deaths occur among those not vaccinated. This is just the latest step the city is taking to safeguard its employees and the residents they interact with daily from the spread of COVID-19.”
There are currently approximately 600 municipal employees in Hoboken, including their police and fire departments, though Baer did not respond to a follow-up question asking how many are still unvaccinated.
Hoboken is currently the only Hudson County municipality with a coronavirus vaccine/testing mandate, which went into effect on August 9th, though neighboring Weehawken – along with the county government – said they’d consider doing something similar.
Additionally, Hoboken just reported a high number of breakthrough cases since June, though Mayor Ravi Bhalla noted that all 15 hospitalizations were in unvaccinated individuals.
2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher said that while she is largely supportive of the rescue plan, she is entirely against the $1,000 incentive to get vaccinated, saying it reeks of a bribe.
“It is great to see the ARP funds being applied in these creative ways to benefit many, including the taxpayer friendly approach of funding items already appropriated in this year’s municipal budget,” she said in a statement.
“But that hefty $600,000 vaccine incentive – using taxpayer funds to buy public employees … again? And just a week after … complaints were filed against [the mayor] for a similar action?”
Last week, Fisher and 6th Ward Councilwoman Jen Giattino called for state investigations into Mayor Ravi Bhalla offering Councilwoman-at-Large Vanessa Falco a job as the new division of housing’s director come January.
The Hoboken City Council convenes tomorrow at 7 p.m. via Zoom.