Summit County offers $100 incentive for its employees to be vaccinated
Federal mandate may yet affect governments, council chair says
Got a COVID-19 vaccine card? If you’re a Summit County employee, that means you’ve got $100 coming your way.
The county government, along with the Snyderville Basin Recreation District, said this week they would offer $100 to any employee — full time or part time — who has received a vaccination. The benefit extends to employee’s spouses, as well.
The policy, however, stops short of mandating vaccination for employees.
The county and Basin Rec are matching an incentive that health insurance provider SelectHealth announced last month that offers $100 to members who receive a vaccine from Aug. 26 through the end of the year.
Matt Leavitt, Summit County’s finance director, said the insurance carrier approached the county with the idea of the incentive, prompting internal discussions about whether to match the payment for employees who have already been vaccinated.
“The health insurance carrier will reward those who have not yet received the vaccine if they will go get fully vaccinated,” he said. “… The county will use a portion of grant funds from the federal government (to) pay for those who have already received their vaccination shots.”
Leavitt said the county does not know how many of its employees have received the vaccine. County officials have said the employee rate likely mirrors that of the county as a whole, in which 83% of residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated.
The county has about 330 full-time employees, Leavitt said. If 250 employees and their spouses took advantage of the county’s incentive program, it could cost $50,000.
“However, the insurance carrier has noted that the health care costs for just a few of those unvaccinated significantly outweigh the incentive,” he said.
The incentive follows the aggressive steps county officials have taken to combat the pandemic, which have included stay-at-home orders, mask mandates and other measures that were stricter than those imposed in the rest of Utah.
Basin Rec Director Dana Jones estimated the plan could cost the district up to $21,000, though it would likely be less than that.
“It’s totally voluntary,” she told the administrative control board Monday. “We are not — this is not any type of a requirement to get the vaccine, have the vaccine or show us any proof that you’ve had it.”
The board approved the policy the same day Park City Mountain Resorts owner Vail Resorts, one of the area’s largest employers, announced its employees would be required to be vaccinated this season.
Glenn Wright, who chairs the Summit County Council, said he welcomed the announcement and called on other large employers to follow suit.
“I hope every other private employer in the county does the same thing, all the hotels, the Marriott corporation, all the other corporations,” he said.
As for the county requiring its employees to be vaccinated, Wright said it was “a thorny issue.” The federal rule the Biden administration recently announced requiring employers with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccinations may yet apply to the county, he said, though there are indications Utah officials will challenge the rule.
Wright also said the county had lost many employees in recent months, including from the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, and that it was facing the same hiring struggles as the private sector.
Ultimately, he said, it’s County Manager Tom Fisher’s decision whether to mandate vaccinations.
“We’re saying, basically, we’d like to encourage either incentives or mandates, and if the county manager decides to go to incentives, we’re fine with that,” Wright said of the council’s position.
He added that he would personally support a vaccine mandate, saying that it could be the thing that finally convinces people who have been hesitant to receive a vaccine.
“We’ll have to make that decision on, ‘Do we want to disrupt the workforce any further?'” he said. “Personally, I’m in favor of it.”
“Focus on the data outcomes, on the academic achievement outcomes, on the rankings that we have. The school board is happy with the direction of the district,” said Andrew Caplan, school board president. “We can always do a better job, especially with things that aren’t our core expertise like building and land management.”
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