Republican councilmembers question mayor about vaccine incentives for city employees

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The Republican members of Fort Wayne’s City Council have written a letter to Mayor Tom Henry (D-Fort Wayne) to ask whether he plans to ask for the council for approval of his proposed vaccination incentives for city employees.

Last Thursday, during a press conference, Mayor Henry announced city employees who voluntarily share proof of vaccination will receive a $200 “wellness initiative” check.

Now, more than a week later, councilmembers sent a letter to Henry that said was never notified about the incentives or the cost or how they’ll be funded. City Council is the fiscal body of Fort Wayne’s government.

Here is the letter:

“In your announcement, you stated that the intention of the policy was to “encourage” the “mandating of COVID-19 vaccines,” the letter reads. “State law explicitly prohibits local governments from mandating vaccines, yet you have laid out a series of policy proposals which seek to encourage exactly what the State prohibits the City from doing. Furthermore, your announcement referred to unspecified further incentives and a November 1 deadline. What are these additional incentives?”

According to the City’s spokesman, John Perlich, the mayor is currently out of town. The Mayor’s office was able to send WANE 15’s Briana Brownlee this statement:

City Administration leaders are in the process of reviewing the letter. Mayor Henry’s top priority continues to be the health and safety of our City employees and residents. We also continue to emphasize the importance of vaccinations to help alleviate the current COVID-19 surge our community is experiencing.

Mayor Henry’s office notified City Council of plans to require masks again in City-owned facilities and the wellness incentive plan for City employees ahead of last week’s news conference. A notice was sent to City Council earlier in the day of the news conference.

Earlier this week, the City Controller’s office shared with City Council how the wellness incentive will be paid for. The payments will come from the Group Health Insurance Fund. The fund isn’t an appropriated fund and doesn’t require approval by City Council. The fund accounts for all health-related costs of the City for its employees.

We’re hopeful that the proactive measures we’ve put in place will enhance our community’s ability to overcome COVID-19.

John Perlich, Spokesman for the City of Fort Wayne

The Republican members who signed the letter are:

  • Paul Ensley, Fort Wayne City Council, 1st District
  • Russ Jehl, Fort Wayne City Council, 2nd District
  • Tom Didier, Fort Wayne City Council, 3rd District
  • Jason Arp, Fort Wayne City Council, 4th District,
  • Tom Freistroffer, Fort Wayne City Council, At-Large

None of the Democratic members signed the letter:

  • Geoff Paddock, Fort Wayne City Council, 5th District
  • Sharon Tucker, Fort Wayne City Council, 6th District
  • Glynn A. Hines, Fort Wayne City Council, At-Large
  • Michelle Chambers, Fort Wayne City Council, At-Large

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