LODI, Calif. (KTXL) — As communities across the state slowly start to reopen, the city of Lodi came up with an idea to reward residents who got at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine on May 6 or later.
But in the eyes of some residents, the plan backfired.
“As soon as we see proof of a completed vaccine regiment, single-dose Johnson & Johnson or two doses with the Moderna or Pfizer shot, the resident would receive $25 credit on their utility bill,” said Lodi Deputy City Manager Andrew Keys.
The city believed it would encourage more people to get vaccinated to fully open the economy, help residents who have been struggling to pay their bills and get money back into utilities because they have not been getting full payments the past year.
“This allows us to use federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to put money back into our utilities on behalf of the residents and get folks vaccinated,” Keys told FOX40.
If more than one person in a household gets their first dose, multiple credits can be applied to the same account, according to city officials.
But many Lodi residents were not happy with the city’s initiative, especially Deborah Finley, who was vaccinated at the beginning of the year.
“Why aren’t we as important as far as getting a discount?” Finley said. “I mean, $25 is $25. Anything helps.”
On the other hand, Jenny Miller said the city’s initiative is alienating people who either cannot get the vaccine or choose not to.
“I immediately thought the city has no business getting involved in pushing medical treatments to its citizens, much less giving incentives for treatments,” Miller said.
Keys said he was aware of the pushback from the community and said the city council approved the program on May 5.
On top of that, there is a reason the city cannot offer everyone a discount on their utilities. Keys explained, “$230,000 is allocated to the vaccine incentive program.”
“That represents at $25 a complete vaccination, 9,200 vaccines citywide,” he continued.
At this moment, the city said they are not considering a discount program for people who were vaccinated before May 6.
The city said those requesting a credit will need their vaccine card and call 209-333-6717 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.