September 11, 2018 10:15 PM
A 14-week study is now finished and in the hands of the St. Paul City Council and it offers several recommendations surrounding the possibility of raising the city's minimum wage ordinance.
The Citizens League put together a 21-member committee, with a diverse group of business and community leaders, which prepared a lengthy report for the City Council to now consider.
A strong majority of the committee members favor a $15-an-hour minimum wage, no adjustments allowed for tips in the restaurant and service industry and a phase-in time frame of seven years for small businesses and five years for large businesses.
The Citizens League's Policy Director, Angelica Klebsch, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the committee was not asked to define what a small or large business was and will be decided, eventually, by the City Council.
"So, ultimately, they suggested taking a head count measure, but there are a lot of ways the city could decide on how they define a small or big business," Klebsch said.
The report does allow for a few exemptions to the proposed $15-an-hour minimum wage increase, but they center mostly on youth training programs.
Sarah Remke owns the Black Dog Cafe in St. Paul's Lowertown neighborhood and she told KSTP she favors the $15-an-hour minimum wage.
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"I do not know how anyone can survive on $15-an-hour, frankly," Remke said. "I have between 35 and 40 employees and I see how hard it is for people making less than that to make ends meet."
But, Remke added, as a small business owner who supports the $15-an-hour movement, it will come with some unique challenges for the industry which relies heavily on tips.
"My servers make $9.65 an hour, but with their tips they end up more in the $19-an-hour range," Remke said. "But, this new proposal the city council is looking at would not allow me to factor in tips to get to the $15-an-hour minimum wage requirement which means we have to figure something out and we have no idea what that will be just yet."
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter issued a statement which said he was pleased with the hard work put forth by the report committee.
"I remain committed to signing a $15-dollar-an-hour minimum wage into law," Carter said. "And, I am still committed to getting it done by the end of this year."
The city council holds a public hearing Wednesday at 5 p.m. at City Hall on the new recommendations.
A final city council vote is not expected for a couple months.
Updated: September 11, 2018 10:15 PM
Created: September 11, 2018 09:31 PM
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