WAGE

Tampa Bay Times - - Re­mem­ber­ing Tampa Bay - Con­tact Char­lie Frago at cfrago@ tam­pabay.com or (727) 893-8459. Fol­low @Char­lieFrago.

bid­ding on city con­tracts and drive up the cost of con­tracts by about $578,000 a year.

Such an idea has not yet been con­sid­ered by the city of Tampa or the govern­ments of Hills­bor­ough and Pinel­las coun­ties.

So Nurse cut a dol­lar an hour out of his or­di­nance, drop­ping the ini­tial bench­mark to $12 an hour.

That wage would in­crease by a dol­lar each year un­til the work­ers make $15 an hour.

Krise­man has al­ready promised city work­ers to raise the min­i­mum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. But City Ad­min­is­tra­tor Gary Corn­well said that while the ad­min­is­tra­tion philo­soph­i­cally sup­ported pay­ing con­tract work­ers more, the cur­rent pro­posal was too ex­pen­sive.

He sug­gested rais­ing the thresh­old to $500,000 be­fore con­trac­tors would have to pay the liv­ing wage.

The coun­cil re­jected that bench­mark, keep­ing the $100,000 trig­ger point, say­ing that it was the right thing to do.

The liv­ing wage mea­sure has had a rocky road. A fi­nal vote was sched­uled for ear­lier this month, but then it was re­moved from the Oct. 5 agenda after the St. Peters­burg Area Cham­ber of Com­merce re­quested changes that al­lowed em­ploy­ers to count health in­sur­ance and other ben­e­fits to­ward the hourly wage man­date.

Those changes were in­cor­po­rated into the new ver­sion, which was ap­proved by Nurse and coun­cil mem­bers Amy Foster, Dar­den Rice and Char­lie Gerdes.

“I still think that’s the right way to go,” Gerdes said. “I don’t know how any­one could ar­gue that the cost of poverty is not more than this (pro­posal.)”

Rice also warned against rais­ing wages so high that work­ers might lose ac­cess to fed­eral ben­e­fits.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Rice said. “I wouldn’t want any un­in­tended con­se­quences of any­one los­ing fed­eral ben­e­fits — SNAP (Sup­ple­men­tal Nu­tri­tion As­sis­tance Pro­gram, or food stamps) or what­ever.”

Ed Mon­ta­nari, the lone Repub­li­can on the coun­cil, said he dis­agreed with gov­ern­ment re­quir­ing busi­nesses to pay a cer­tain wage.

“My think­ing is the best way to raise wages in the city is to cut taxes, cut reg­u­la­tions … ver­sus hav­ing a top-down ap­proach where the gov­ern­ment im­poses a liv­ing wage,” said Mon­ta­nari, who spoke at the meet­ing but doesn’t sit on the com­mit­tee, so he could not vote.

The or­di­nance will have to be vet­ted all over again, this time in front of all eight City Coun­cil mem­bers. The ten­ta­tive date for the fi­nal vote is Nov. 16 — nine days after Elec­tion Day, when the mayor’s race and three City Coun­cil seats will be de­cided.

The liv­ing wage or­di­nance now joins other con­tro­ver­sial mea­sures that have been de­layed or tabled in re­cent months dur­ing the mayor’s race. Krise­man has been locked in a bru­tal and ex­pen­sive may­oral cam­paign against for­mer Mayor Rick Baker since May.

Other ex­am­ples in­clude a pro­posal to man­date so­lar pan­els on roofs for new con­struc­tion and some re­place­ments and a $92,500 out­lay for so­cial me­dia “in­flu­encers” to tout the city.

The coun­cil also won’t ap­prove what is likely to be a dra­matic hike in monthly util­ity bills to al­le­vi­ate the city’s mas­sive sewage spills un­til after the Nov. 7 elec­tion.

They did that be­cause they first need to see if vot­ers ap­prove a 10-year ex­ten­sion of the Penny for Pinel­las sales tax to help pay the cost of fix­ing the city’s sewage sys­tem.

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