City News

County Board votes to raise minimum wage

Supervisor First Vice-Chair Jeff Pertl, who was the chief sponsor of the bill, was the first supervisor to speak in support of the bill during Thursday’s meeting.

Supervisor First Vice-Chair Jeff Pertl, who was the chief sponsor of the bill, was the first supervisor to speak in support of the bill during Thursday’s meeting.

The Dane County Board of Supervisors voted to amend its minimum wage ordinance Tuesday night, increasing pay for workers of the county and entities with which the county contracts to $12.50 by January of next year.

The updated ordinance changes the definition of a “living wage” in service contracts and sets an hourly wage for those service contracts at $12.50 effective Jan. 1, 2017. The living wage will then increase by 50 cents every year until 2022, when it will reach $15 per hour. Following that, it will increase annually according to the Consumer Price Index of June in the previous year.

The amended ordinance also struck the part of the definition that defined specific types of labor covered under “service contracts,” making the ordinance broader in scope.

The old minimum wage worked out to roughly $11.68 per hour. The county defined a “living wage” as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services poverty level for a family of four, $24,300 in 2016, and dividing it by 2,080.

Supervisor First Vice-Chair Jeff Pertl was the chief sponsor on the bill, which was introduced in early August. It was then referred to the Personnel & Finance Committee, which passed it unanimously Aug. 29.

Supervisor Michael Willett spoke against the bill, citing concerns with how the county will fund “the extra $1 million it will cost, in addition to the half a million it will cost every year after that.”

Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Corrigan, who sponsored the bill, said that she wishes the bill could help more employees but is pleased with the raise.

“We know that it’s going to impact over 1,000 employees,” Corrigan said. “We’re very excited about [the wage raise] because we know that it costs a lot more than the federal poverty level is in order to support a family in this community.”

Supervisor Hayley Young, District 5, who represents campus, supported the bill. She said it was an opportunity to put the principles of many of her constituents into practice.

“When you’re talking about trying to make a more equitable Dane County, this is really a way to do it,” Young said. “If you look at the people who work for governments in jobs like administrative support work or service industries, a lot of times there’s higher representations of women and people of color. So by raising the wages of these people, you’re doing a better job of closing wage gaps.”

In addition to the multiple supervisors who spoke in support of the bill, eight members of the public registered in support of the bill.

Twenty-five of the County Board’s 37 supervisors also sponsored the bill and it passed 33-2, with two absent. Dane County Executive Joe Parisi still must sign the bill before it goes into law, but he has spoken in support of the bill.

“Since both the state and federal government have failed to do the right thing on this issue, it is now up to us on the local level to do everything in our power to insure that a $15 an hour minimum wage becomes a reality," Parisi said in an August statement.

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