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On November 2, Aurora City Council will consider a proposal to raise the city’s minimum wage to $ 17 by 2025.
“I can imagine what it is like for today’s minimum wage workers, and it’s impossible. It’s impossible for them to pay $ 1,500 in rent and work $ 12 an hour,” said councilor Alison Coombs, who put the proposal to the council.
“I wouldn’t waste our time talking about this and bringing it to a full council meeting if I wasn’t sure I had the support,” she added.
In a video promoting the idea, she promises, “We have the votes, so we’ll make it.”
But she doesn’t have the mayor’s support. In a tweet on October 27, Mayor Mike Coffman, who acts as a tiebreaker in the split of the council, described the idea as “dumb and dumber”.
“I can’t think of a worse time to push this forward. Most of these jobs are in the restaurant industry and are among the hardest hit in this COVID crisis, which is far from over with renewed occupancy restrictions this week,” said Coffman says.
If the proposal goes through a final vote in mid-November, the Aurora minimum wage will rise to $ 12.60 in 2021 and then increase annually until it hits $ 17 in 2025. According to this, the annual minimum wage increases are linked to the consumer price index.
In 2019, Colorado law approved a measure giving municipalities and counties the power to raise the minimum wage, which reached $ 12 nationwide in 2020. The country’s minimum wage has been $ 7.25 since 2009, and some states only offer about a dollar or more.
After Governor Jared Polis signed this bill, Denver City Council and Mayor Michael Hancock acted quickly and raised the city’s minimum wage to $ 12.85 for 2020, with a minimum wage of $ 15.87 for 2022. In the years after 2022, Denver’s minimum wage will increase relative to the Consumer Price Index with a projected minimum wage for 2025 equal to the $ 17 proposed by Coombs for Aurora.
At a council study meeting in September, Coombs had proposed a minimum wage of $ 20 by 2027. During the same session, she proposed a change to bring the proposed increase down to $ 17 by 2025.
The majority of councilors at that meeting, however, opposed the proposal – some because they were concerned about causing such an increase during an economic downturn, others simply because they did not have enough time to investigate the idea.
However, after the meeting, Coombs said voters stood up for her and encouraged her to continue pushing for a minimum wage increase before the end of the year.
Her current proposal upheld the $ 17 target by 2025, offsetting workers’ need “to get paid more and adapt now,” said Coombs, adding that she had heard from companies that ” it takes time to adjust to higher wages “and that a” large increase would be very difficult for them to cope with “.
Because they haven’t seen the new proposal, members Marsha Berzins, Francoise Bergan, Curtis Gardner, and Dave Gruber say they can’t officially commit one way or another – but they all also say they’re not fans of the Idea of are an increase in the minimum wage at the moment.
“Aurora will elect five council members next year. I hope voters will remember who voted to raise the entry-level minimum wage during this pandemic,” says Berzins, adding that Coombs announced that he would reintroduce the proposal in 2021 . not before the end of the year.
“I was genuinely surprised to hear that a minimum wage proposal was put to the vote on Monday when we don’t have a published agenda. It was announced on social media by Councilor Coombs,” said Bergan. “In addition, we had heard from over 100 local businesses how detrimental this would be for them and what serious concerns they might have about closing or relocating their business when the original proposal was made. It seems impervious to this proposal during a Recession submit to the pandemic. “
At the council’s study session on September 21, where members discussed minimum wage proposals of $ 20 and $ 17, Garrett Walls, chairman of the Aurora City Council, said companies were opposed to any kind of minimum wage increase at the time.
But he added, “Adjusting the end of the period to reflect the level of Denver will help alleviate some of the competition concerns between Aurora and Denver, and Aurora doesn’t have higher minimum wages than Denver after a year.” 2025 when our escalations are dwarfing Denver, especially along the Havana Business Improvement District as it is very easy to just move to Denver via Havana Street and potentially have lower wages there. “
Others in the business world don’t think that far away. Kevin Hougen, president of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, says that around 300 companies have opposed an increase in the minimum wage and that this is a “kick in the gut”.
“Each of them said that when we are in the worst financial crisis in our history, apart from the Great Depression, this is not the time not only to discuss this but also to put it into practice. Who would do such a thing is the question that we face. ” I come from hundreds of companies, “says Hougen.
He points to the retail, hotel, restaurant, and Medicaid reimbursement companies as industries that will have great success if the minimum wage increase is exceeded.
“I think you will see that a lot of people who have had an interest in getting started in Aurora are likely to retreat and move to another community,” he says. “I think you can definitely see companies closing down. COVID is adding to that challenge.”
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh works for Westword where he covers a range of topics including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves talking about New York sports.