Atlanta again delays plan to raise minimum wage, this time to $13 an hour

By David Pendered

The Atlanta City Council begins the new year with an effort left over from last year – to raise the minimum wage paid by the city. As with the old conversation, the new one was put on hold at the request of Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration.

grant park swimming pool

A proposal to raise the minimum wage paid by the city of Atlanta would affect 198 seasonal workers, such as lifeguards at Grant Park’s pool. The proposal was delayed for further review. Credit: yelp.com

The new proposal would have raise the city’s minimum wage to $13 an hour beginning July 1. The date is the start of the city’s next fiscal year. The paper was introduced by Finance Committee, which often indicates it originated with the administration.

The legislation provides for a second increase to take effect July 1, 2018, raising the minimum wage to $14 an hour. A third hike would take effect July 1, 2019, to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, according to the legislation.

The city’s current minimum wage is $10.10 an hour, according to Yvonne Cowser Yancy, Atlanta’s commissioner of human resources.

Yancy asked the council’s Finance Committee on Wednesday to delay the legislation.

The administration needs more time to review the city’s organization structure, Yancy said. The HR department has been working on the effort since the previous paper was introduced, on Aug. 15, 2016.

The Aug. 15 proposal would have raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The paper did not state when it the pay hike would take effect. It was introduced by councilmembers Felicia Moore and Andre Dickens.

The paper was held Aug. 24, 2016 to provide time for a feasibility study to be conducted, council records show.

The cost of implementing the $15-an-hour plan would have ranged from $5.9 million to $6.2 million per year, Yancy said. The variance is due to the overtime pay the employees would be expected to draw, she said.

Yvonne Cowser Yancy

Atlanta’s commissioner of human resources, Yvonne Cowser Yancy, said the administration needs more time to evaluate the proposal to raise the minimum wage paid by the city. Credit: Atlanta

The wage hike would affect 172 full time workers and 198 season workers, Yancy said. Most of these workers are in the departments of public works and recreation, Yancy said. In addition, the salaries of about 200 supervisors would have to rise to ensure they earn more than their subordinates, Yancy said.

Councilmember Alex Wan asked if the HR department had completed a review of the city’s payroll to ensure that employees are properly classified as exempt or non-exempt.

Yancy responded that she thinks all city employees are now properly classified.

Wan also asked Yancy if the city is prepared to comply with a directive from the Obama administration that enables more workers to be eligible for overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours a week.

The proposal was expected to raise the wages of about 5 million workers. It would have raised the threshold at which OT must be paid from an annual salary of $23,660 to an annual salary of $50,440. The move was intended to affect managers who are required to work more than 40 hours a week, but who are ineligible for OT pay because of their income level.

Yancy responded that she does not expect the program to take effect. She said a court ruling has blocked implementation. Furthermore, she said, the incoming Trump administration has placed the program among those that Trump will rescind once he takes office.

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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