The Board of Supervisors has approved minimum wage increases for the next three years, but will it matter to most people who currently make $7.25 an hour?

The supervisors approved the third and final consideration of the ordinance by a 4-1 vote. The vote approves increases of one dollar each of the next three years, beginning January 1, 2017. It raises the minimum wage to these benchmarks over the next three years:

  • $8.25 as of January 1, 2017
  • $9.25 as of January 1, 2018
  • $10.25 as of January 1, 2019

Linn County Board of Supervisors Chair Ben Rogers, who originally proposed the ordiance, said in a press release, “It is a historic moment for Linn County to become only the second county in Iowa to raise the minimum wage. This is the first step in trying to address wage inequality in our community and help people earning low wages to get onto the path towards greater independence.”

The ordinance automatically applies in unincorporated areas of Linn County and in any city or part of a city within the county that doesn't approve a conflicting ordinance.

There's no automatic increases in the ordinance, based on the Midwest region's Consumer Price Index. There's also no provision for youth wages, which is part of the reason Supervisor John Harris voted against it. Harris was the only no vote and said he also voted not because he heard from citizens who were concerned about the increases in 2018 and 2019.

What's next? The city councils of all of Linn County's cities must now make a decision. If they do nothing, the ordinance will go into effect in their community January 1, 2017. Each city also has the option of passing their own ordinance that would set a minimum wage in their community. Now that the ordinance has passed, the county’s city councils must decide whether or not to take up discussion on the issue.

According to the Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Marion, and Hiawatha account for approximately 80 percent of Linn County residents. Obviously, that makes those communities three that will be watched very closely.

It appears Hiawatha will go along with the ordinance, but it may not be that way in Cedar Rapids and Marion. Supervisor Brent Oleson told the Gazette, “I hear that Marion may not pass this, that the city of Cedar Rapids may only do one year, I think that’s sad for the people in those communities that are working hard. I would recommend all residents who are passionate about this who want to see a minimum-wage increase in Linn County lobby Marion and Cedar Rapids."

Personally, as a Cedar Rapids resident, I hope the City Council sticks with the wage increase set by the ordinance. Yes, it will definitely hurt the wallet a little bit, but to move to $8.25 an hour and then stay there for the foreseeable future just isn't enough, in my opinion. I tip my cap to the Board of Supervisors for doing something the federal government won't, or hasn't to this point. Now, stay tuned to see what happens across Linn County.

The press release from Linn County states exceptions from the minimum wage requirements stated in Iowa Code Section 91D.1(2) apply to Linn County’s ordinance.

The approved ordinance is available on the Linn County website.

[via Linn County and the Gazette]