While the debate over term limits captured the most attention, Wilton Manors commissioners began discussions on the politically charged topic of COVID-19 vaccination.
At the commission’s Oct. 26 regular meeting, commissioners heard proposals from the city’s finance department on usages of American Rescue Plan Act funds. Human Resources Director Dio Sanchez said the city cannot ask an employee their vaccination status but if an employee wants to receive an incentive for being vaccinated they can provide such verification.
“It’s not a mandate, it’s just an option if they want to receive the incentive,” Sanchez said.
The vaccination incentive is $500 per employee and must be redeemed by the end of the year. Finance Director Penny Zuercher said not all employees have been vaccinated and estimated less than 159 are eligible for the incentive.
Wilton Manors received $6,388,889 in its first installment of ARPA funding and has budgeted $79,500 for COVID-19 vaccination incentives.
Other notes from the meeting include:
Commissioners voted to eliminate the city’s Civil Service Board. Michael Rajner, former Charter Review Board Chair, cautioned that dissolving the board could be perceived as log rolling. “There’s been no alternative presented to the public on how non-union employees can address matters and grievances,” Rajner said.
Proclamations were issued recognizing Hindu American Heritage and Awareness Month and LGBTQ+ History Month. Shekar Reddy, owner of Wilton Discount Liquor, received the Hindu American Heritage proclamation and Robert Boo, CEO of the Pride Center at Equality Park, received the LGBTQ+ History proclamation.
Commissioners voted to renew the insurance contract with United Healthcare. Five companies submitted proposals with United offering a 4% decrease in premiums. Monthly health insurance costs came to $753 per employee, Sanchez said, for the calendar year 2022.
Westside resident Simone Luke addressed the commission about response times to code enforcement complaints. Luke said it took four months to get a response from code enforcement about a noisy neighbor. Low, non-competitive salaries for code enforcement officers are shameful, Luke said.
“We’re not even offering 50% of the average salary of Wilton Manors to a person to work for us the citizens of our community,” Luke said. “How do you get someone with technical expertise to work in code for 35 grand a year?”
Commissioners approved an agreement with Valley Collection Service, an Arizona-based debt collection agency. Wilton Manors piggybacked on the agreement Deerfield Beach has with the company.
Carl Shearer, chair of the Recreation Advisory Board, gave a presentation on the board’s unanimous recommendations. The city should accept the Site 92 cypress park as a “once and lifetime” gift from Broward County at a cost of less than $9,000 annually for maintenance and insurance to be absorbed internally, Shearer said. The board also recommends the city accept the Kiwanis Club proposal and negotiate in good faith with the service organization on a future scholarship donation of $150,000. Colohatchee Park, Shearer said, needs upgrades to its boardwalk, parking lot and bathrooms. The park’s expansion would be funded in part by a $50,000 grant from the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program.