The Kansas City Council today passed an ordinance that raises the minimum hourly wage in the city to $8.50 next month and $13 by Jan. 1, 2020.
“When I reported on the State of the City last spring, I said our entire community would suffer as long as people who work hard are unable to bring home enough money to provide for their families,” Mayor Sly James said. “Our action today is an attempt to do the right thing not just for minimum-wage workers today, but for the future of Kansas City.”
The ordinance culminates a more than three-month process in which extraordinary effort was taken to find a Kansas City solution to an issue that has been simmering on the national public policy agenda. In an effort to pass a measure that would be effective and efficient, discussion, research and analysis was focused on respecting the dynamics of our local economy and business conditions, while addressing the needs of the working poor.
The ordinance requires that on Aug. 24, Kansas City employers with more than 15 employees must pay workers 85 cents an hour more than the current state-mandated minimum wage of $7.65 per hour.
Thereafter, the Kansas City minimum wage would increase to $9.82 per hour on Jan. 1, 2017, to $10.96 per hour on Jan. 1, 2018; to $11.98 per hour on Jan. 1, 2019; and to $13 per hour on Jan. 1, 2020. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the minimum wage would be adjusted annually based on the cost of living.
The ordinance would not apply to persons 17 years of age and younger. Among other exemptions are government employees except employees of Kansas City, Missouri; apprentices; workers in certain volunteer or charitable occupations, and interns working for academic credit. Employers whose workers receive tips as part of their compensation would be required to pay no less than 50 percent of the minimum wage established by Missouri law.
The action today completes a process begun in late March with the introduction of a minimum wage ordinance by Third District Councilman Jermaine Reed.The ordinance initially was referred to the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee and later re-referred to a committee of the whole council.
The Committee of the Whole met twice, following which Mayor James convened a stakeholder group that met six times. The stakeholder group included both proponents of raising the minimum wage and others concerned about the impact of raising the minimum wage on local businesses.
“I want to thank the City Council — especially Councilmen Scott Wagner and Jermaine Reed — and members of my staff for their very hard work on minimum wage,” James said. “I hope they agree with me that our work the past few weeks is among the most important we have done together.”
“The community input — from proponents, opponents and everyone in between — was heartfelt, and valuable. I want to thank everyone who contributed, whether a single phone call to my office or hours of work with the stakeholder group.”