ANDERSON — Council President Ty Bibbs is proposing that the city consider providing up to $8.4 million in incentives for residents to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

His idea would pay $150 to every resident over the age of 5 who has been vaccinated and received the booster shot.

“The reason I suggested the incentive is the vaccination numbers,” Bibbs said. “The 46016 ZIP code is one of the lowest in the state when it comes to people who are vaccinated.”

Funding would come from the federal government's allowance to pay for COVID-19 mitigation and prevention.

He said a recent study released Friday shows Indiana has the nation's lowest vaccination rate, which is the percentage of the public that's vaccinated.

“I'm trying to do something to bend the curve,” said the City Council president. “If the virus comes back, it will be worse than before.”

A vaccination card would be used for verification, and the money could be issued as a credit on a utility bill or as a gift or prepaid debit card.

Bibbs also suggested that instead of taking $1.6 million from the American Rescue Plan funding for a budget shortfall, the shortfall be taken from the city’s $18 million operating balance.

“I'm a proponent of having a healthy operating balance,” Bibbs said. “But the city has more of an operating balance than recommended. We also will be getting additional tax revenues starting next year because of the increase in the public safety income tax. The city is in good financial shape.”

He recommends these increases to the mayor's proposal for the federal ARP funds:

• Move an additional $1 million to nonprofit organizations, raising the total to $3 million.
• Increase homeowner assistance by $200,000 for a total of $1.2 million.
• Add $200,000 to affordable housing programs, making the total $1.7 million.
• Putting $200,000 more for homeless initiatives, bringing the total to $1 million.

Bibbs notes that the legislation recently signed by President Joe Biden could bring Anderson $1.6 million for infrastructure investments.

Dependent on federal funding for infrastructure and high-speed internet expansion, Bibbs believes the city will have $2.1 million available in the ARP funding.

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