A contentious policy that would have seen Manjimup Shire workers paid up to $500 in ratepayers’ money if they were vaccinated has been swiftly rejected by councillors. The plan, which was unanimously rejected at an ordinary council meeting last night, would have seen staff gifted between $300 and $500 if they received the COVID-19 jab by February and could have costed up to $60,000. It was originally co-ordinated by Shire chief executive Andrew Campbell, but was met with backlash from the community, prompting president Paul Omodei to schedule the vote. The negative feedback from the community was so overwhelming, council documents even stated it was “extremely disappointing” sections of the community had made a number of “personal attacks and remarks” towards Mr Campbell, councillors and employees. An officer’s report to councillors last night still recommended the incentive be passed, but elected members instead pushed an alternate motion to reconsider the program and instead develop a policy for staff incentives or bonuses that must first be approved by council. The shire had already put aside $60,000 for staff incentives in its 2021/22 Budget, but was not specifically for COVID-19 vaccinations. Cr Omodei said at the meeting the initiative was planned with the “best intentions” for the shire and its ability to continue to work through any possible future COVID-19 outbreak. Deputy Shire president Jayde Darin also voiced support for the cash-for-jab program being shut down, but said although it was positive to see a large portion of the community concerned about local government matters, the backlash she and other councillors experienced was hurtful. Shire document stated Manjimup councillors were first made aware of the program at a briefing session held on August 19, where no objections were made by any councillor present. During the public question time, Mr Campbell said the COVID-19 vaccination rate among Shire employees was just 25 per cent. The alternate recommendation passed with a 10-0 vote.