Minimum wage concerns in Santa Fe

Posted at: 10/16/2012 7:53 PM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The City of Santa Fe has the highest minimum wage in the country, but now city leaders are considering putting a cap on it so it cannot keep climbing even higher.

A city ordinance requires minimum wage hikes be recalculated every year.  But now some are questioning how much higher it can get when it is already at $10.29 an hour.

"You can work part time and still afford a house," said Lucas McMurry, who makes minimum wage working four hours a day, six days a week at Bert's Burger Bowl. "If you freeze minimum wage, it'd be hard."

Under the current city ordinance, annual increases happen in January based on the federally determined consumer price index.

"I don't think it's designed to make anyone rich, it's just designed to help people get along on a day to day basis," said Geno Zamora, city attorney.

Simon Brackley, the city's chamber of commerce president, told KOB Eyewitness News 4 the minimum wage increased four out of the past five years.

Business owners fear it could easily reach $15 to $17 an hour if there is no cap, Brackley said.

But for part-time workers, McMurry said the money is necessary to live in Santa Fe.

"You might get sent home early, and are paying more for utility bills at the same time, so it's just hard if they were to freeze minimum wage.  It's a foolish idea," McMurry said.

It will ultimately be up to the mayor and city councilors whether they will continue to have a wage that grows with the economy or one that stays static. 

There is no timeline for when the idea could go before council.