Tonight the Council approved a six month delay in its previously-approved minimum wage increase that was to have taken effect on July 1, 2020. The reason? Because local businesses are under enormous financial strain as a result of the Covid-19 global pandemic.
That’s certainly true. But there are a number of other approaches the Council could’ve taken to support those businesses. In fact, the Council has already allocated over $100,000 to offer outright grants, and could easily provide more. We have tens of millions of dollars in financial reserves and if there ever was a time to tap reserves surely the current situation qualifies.
Beyond grants there are many other things the Council could do. Approve a sewer tax and/or garbage & fee holiday for downtown businesses. Temporarily waive any and all permit fees normally charged to qualifying businesses. The list goes on.
The one thing all those other approaches don’t do is provide the support at the expense of minimum wage workers, surely the part of society least able to lobby the Council to look out for its interests.
The Council’s action sent a clear — if unintended; I believe and hope it was unintended — message to those on one of the lowest rungs of society’s ladder: get down on your hands and knees because we need to stand on your back to restart the economy1.
That’s not a message I subscribe to or want to be associated with in any way, even inadvertently.
Which is why I voted against the delay.
I have and will continue to support providing help to local businesses suffering from this pandemic. But not by harming people also in dire straits.
There are better ways. Ways that help everyone by using a portion of our community’s financial reserves.
We should’ve used them.
I couldn’t even get the Council to require the City itself to honor the original schedule…even though it literally wouldn’t cost us a dime. ↩