Wauwatosa mayor proposes financial incentive for people who are fully vaccinated

NOW: Wauwatosa mayor proposes financial incentive for people who are fully vaccinated

WAUWATOSA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Businesses want customers to buy local, and cities want more shots in arms. Wauwatosa's mayor may have found a way to help achieve both goals at the same time.

Wauwatosa has been designated as the recipient of $25 million from the American Rescue Plan. Mayor Dennis McBride told CBS 58 he's proposing to use some of that money to offer a financial incentive for residents who complete their vaccine series.

"I'd like to take some of that and give people in Wauwatosa who can prove that they're fully vaccinated a $50 or $100 gift card to local businesses -- to Wauwatosa restaurants and retail establishments," McBride told CBS 58.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has dismissed the idea of creating a statewide lottery system to reward people for getting vaccinated similar to the one Ohio is offering. However, McBride thinks it could work on a smaller scale in Tosa.

"It would raise the level of fully protected people and it would also give an economic boost to our businesses, which really need it after the recession we've just gone through," he said.

At The Ruby Tap in Wauwatosa, co-owner Brooke Boomer said she provides "a coffeehouse feel but with wine." Fun and unique flavors of wine are always flowing at Boomer's wine bar, and she hopes the customers will come with it.

"I just think getting people out again, getting bodies in here, is what we need," Boomer said.

She's starting to see more regulars come back and business picking up again. She said there's a clear reason: "vaccinations, for sure."

Boomer said she's glad the city is recognizing business' needs and every little bit helps.

"I think if (people) have a reason to go out and if they were given these gift cards, it'd be great," she said.

McBride's plan is still in the early stages, and no proposal has been formally brought to Common Council. The mayor said the city has not yet received the money from the American Rescue Plan, but the Common Council will soon begin discussing how to use the money.

"Our levels of vaccination are quite high, but let's get as close to 100 percent as we can. If it takes $100 inducement to get people over that hump, then so be it," McBride said.

CBS 58 called all 16 council members in Wauwatosa seeking comment on this story. Most did not respond to CBS 58's request for comment. Several members, as well as the Wauwatosa Village BID, said it was too premature to comment as no proposal has been formally brought to the council. A few members questioned said the mayor has a good idea but questioned how it would work and how much money it would cost.

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