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ELOY — The City Council approved a vaccine incentive program for city employees on Monday.

The program will award a cash incentive for any city employee who receives the COVID-19 vaccine by Nov. 15. Funds to support the incentive will come from the American Rescue Plan Act, up to $65,000.

The decision came at a time when Pinal County is around 48% fully vaccinated. The council saw this as a way to incentivize city employees to get the vaccine and protect others from the virus.

The council debated the topic for some time at the meeting, with questions being directed to City Manager Harvey Krauss to help council members make a decision. After debate, the council voted and the motion passed 4-3.

Eloy Mayor Micah Powell was on the fence about the incentive program, saying that he could see why the incentive is a good idea, but he did not want it to look like he, or other City Council members, were favoring city employees over other residents of Eloy.

“I think it comes down to personal responsibility. I am the type of person that believes if someone wants the vaccine, get it, if you do not want it, you don’t have to,” Powell said. “As this pandemic is here, I think we need to find ways to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our neighbors. But I think educating the residents is worth more, especially when we have residents who do not have the means to get to a vaccination clinic.”

While Powell may not have been on the side of instituting a vaccine incentive for city employees, he shared that he does support everyone getting the vaccine.

“We have all lost somebody who has died to COVID, and especially for us as a small community, it touches us even harder,” Powell said. “We are giving people that avenue and opportunity to get the vaccine, but I think that we can do more.”

The incentive program for city employees will go into effect in the coming weeks.

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David Church is a reporter covering Eloy, Arizona City and sports. He can be reached at dchurch@pinalcentral.com.