Vaccine incentives approved for UG employees

The Unified Government approved a vaccine incentive program on Thursday night, Sept. 30, that sets aside $1 million for UG employees who are fully vaccinated.

The testing component was eliminated from the motion by Commissioner Melissa Bynum.

On an 8-1 vote, the commission approved the $400 incentive for each employee who is fully vaccinated, and an additional $100 for employees who receive a booster shot.

Vaccines are not mandated, but have incentives under the COVID-19 mitigation plan that passed.

The original proposal had a testing alternative for those who do not get the vaccine, but that was eliminated in the version that passed. By eliminating the testing alternative, the resolution that passed avoided any potential conflicts with unions. It also avoided losing any employees over the testing provision.

Commissioner Mike Kane said Laborers International, Local 1290, did not sign off on the letter of understanding that was presented to it. Some of the UG’s 13 unions wanted to sit down and negotiate with the UG on the issues, according to Kane, but they believed it was being presented unilaterally. He fully believes everybody should be vaccinated, but not dictated to on whether to do it, he said. He added the UG would lose employees across the board for rushing into a program that included mandatory testing.

Commissioner Gayle Townsend voted against the resolution that passed, saying that she supported a smaller monetary amount, for example, $200, plus four hours of time off for employees who were vaccinated.

Commissioner Brian McKiernan said he did not oppose the version that passed, because it will be using American Rescue Plan Act funding for the incentives for employees. He said time off came with administrative overhead and could be more costly to the UG.

Covered under the mitigation plan were UG full-time employees, part-time employees, temporary and seasonal employees, temporary agency employees placed at the UG, contractors and volunteers, according to the proposal.

As of Sept. 27, about 1,269 UG employees were vaccinated out of about 2,300 according to UG officials.

Much more detail on this topic is available on YouTube at

To view an earlier story on this topic, see

EPA awards $469,924 in project funding in KC area

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that $469,924 will be awarded in funding for three sustainable materials management projects in the Kansas City area.

The announcement was made at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas.

The Unified Government will receive $95,000 in funding to conduct a feasibility study for an organic material composting facility, including a site evaluate, feedstock and processing technologies evaluation, concept design and financial evaluation, according to the EPA.

The Mid-America Regional Council was selected for $174,924 in funding for a project to address food waste reduction in the nine-county Kansas City region through a Regional Food Waste Reduction Action Plan, food system mapping and an educational campaign.

Kansas State University Pollution Prevention Institute was selected for $200,000 in funding for a project in Johnson County that will work with industry and community partners to provide on-site technical assistance, identifying and documenting opportunities for food and solid-waste (packaging) source reduction, diversion and recycling.

“By working to reduce the waste going to landfills and stopping pollution at the source,” said acting EPA Region 7 Administrator Edward H. Chu, “these sustainable materials management projects will help the Kansas City area become an even stronger and more environmentally friendly community.”

“The UG remains committed to improving air quality and ensuring clean, safe water for Wyandotte County and the surrounding region,” said Mayor-CEO David Alvey, Unified Government. “An organic composting facility could help reduce unnecessary waste going into area landfills, decreasing emissions harmful to the environment, and turning waste into composted materials that can be used for land applications such as an alternative to chemical fertilizers. We appreciate the EPA’s grant assistance to study the feasibility of this project, and value this partnership to improve the quality of life for our community and the region through sustainable materials management.”

“This grant allows MARC to convene regional partners and stakeholders to address food waste in a holistic way through prevention, rescue and composting,” MARC Executive Director David Warm said. “These strategies will get more fresh food to those in need, reduce the financial burden to individual households, limit greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce the region’s disposal needs.”

“This new funding will accelerate our solid waste reduction work with Kansas schools, industries and communities,” said Paul Lowe, associate vice president for research and director of PreAward Services at Kansas State University. “It will divert millions of tons of waste from the landfills in Kansas, helping the state and Johnson County meet their solid waste reduction goals while acting as a model for future industrial and community partners.”

Sustainable Materials Management is a systemic approach to using materials more productively and finding new opportunities to reduce environmental impacts, conserve resources, and reduce costs over a product’s life cycle. EPA’s SMM program supports efforts to help build community health by reducing the use, release and exposure to toxic chemicals; using life-cycle approaches to reduce the health and environmental impacts of materials use; and employing upstream solutions that reduce the need for and cost of environmental cleanup and pollution management.

UG Commission to consider COVID mitigation plan tonight

The Unified Government Commission is scheduled to consider a COVID-19 mitigation plan for staff at the 7 p.m. meeting tonight.

Discussed during a Monday night UG committee meeting, the mitigation plan would give $400 each to employees who are vaccinated and also require COVID testing for employees who are unvaccinated. An additional $100 would be given to employees who get a booster shot.

The $1 million for these incentives would come from federal American Rescue Plan Act funds that the UG is receiving.

Those employees who do not show proof of being fully vaccinated would have to undergo weekly COVID testing, under the plan. The testing would start Dec. 1.

The plan does not require vaccinations, but it requires weekly testing of those who are not vaccinated.

To view an earlier story about the vaccination plan, see

Also on the 7 p.m. agenda is an amendment to the West Lawn Development Agreement at the Legends Outlets allowing for the disbursement of the remaining funds in the community improvement district bond project fund, on the condition that the developer either pave the parking lot or the UG approve a redevelopment plan for the parking lot by Nov. 30, 2022.

There also will be a special session at 5 p.m. tonight to discuss how to spend ARPA funds.

A number of planning and zoning items, and Land Bank items also are on the 7 p.m. agenda, which can be found at

The meetings will be on Zoom, and also will be available by telephone, as well as can be seen on YouTube and UGTV cable television.

The Zoom link for the 7 p.m. meeting is at

The passcode is 480368 and the webinar ID is 836 6601 0794.
The toll-free telephone numbers are 888-475-4499 and 877-853-5257.

The 5 p.m. meeting is on Zoom at

The passcode is 142455 and the webinar ID is 868 0162 0893.

The toll-free phone numbers for the 5 p.m. meeting are 888-475-4499 and 877-853-5257.

For more information on how to access the meetings, visit