Well, that was easy.
While Denver City Council members stalled plans calling for $400 bonuses for city workers who followed the vaccine mandate, lawmakers had a much easier time approving a bill to use federal money for premium pay. They unanimously approved forwarding a bill providing $250 a month in additional money for certain city employees.
Qualifying city employees would include those who last year worked 50 percent or more of their time in-person with others, or who handled stuff that was handled by other people. It must have been required work in order to qualify.
Staff could be eligible for a maximum of 10 months of premium pay. Eligible employees would need to have worked between March 2020 to December 2020, before vaccines become widely available. They must still be employed by the city.
So for example, a city employee who worked during the 10 eligible months would get a maximum of $2,500 (this is for uniformed employees, like cops and firefighters). The money would be provided in a lump sum payment. The city’s finance department estimates close to 7,500 city workers including career service and uniformed employees would qualify.
The program will cost $16.6 million. It will use $8.8 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (this is the amount Denver City Council approved on Tuesday) and $7.8 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. This second amount doesn’t require council approval to use.
City Chief Financial Officer Brendan Hanlon told lawmakers on Tuesday the plan has been in the work for months. It follows a similar move by other cities to provide premium pay using federal money, including neighboring Aurora and Lakewood.
The proposal to give vaccinated city staff bonuses was approved on Tuesday, before the premium pay bill was approved. Both bills will now be heard by the full City Council this month.
The premium pay checks could be delivered as soon as November if the full council approves the program.