Program Not Wise Use of Tax Dollars

Leave it to elected officials to figure out new and creative ways to spend your tax dollars.

Apparently, some of our local municipalities are so flush with cash from the various federal COVID-19 rescue plans that now, with what seems to be no other useful way to spend your money, leaders there are considering bonuses of $500 for employees who either already have received a COVID-19 vaccination or will soon get one.

Moundsville City Council on Tuesday approved the bonus, which means any of its 113 municipal employees vaccinated against COVID-19 are eligible for an additional $500. If all employees receive the bonus, that would cost $56,500.

“We knew that we wanted to incentivize vaccines in some way and encourage our employees to be vaccinated, to assist in increasing the county’s rate of vaccine, and the state’s rate,” Moundsville Councilwoman Sarah Wood said.

In Wheeling, city council’s finance committee on Tuesday forwarded a similar proposal to the full council for future approval. Wheeling currently has about 300 full-time employees, so if everyone is vaccinated, the program would cost about $150,000.

“While the vaccine is a personal choice, I would like to see that we reward the employees who are vaccinated,” Wheeling Councilman Dave Palmer said, noting employees vaccinated by Nov. 30 would be eligible.

Surely, between Wheeling and Moundsville, there’s a better use of $200,000 to benefit all taxpayers. As we saw with Gov. Jim Justice’s “Do it for Babydog” program, vaccine incentives aren’t effective in raising the vaccine rate, which calls into question why it’s being done locally other than to find yet another way to simply spend money.

Perhaps a better approach would be for both cities to find meaningful ways to alleviate the additional tax burden they’ve placed on citizens over the past few years through a service fee and a municipal sales tax in Wheeling and also a municipal sales tax in Moundsville. That would provide a real impact to all taxpayers.


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