Bernalillo County businesses to pay higher minimum wage

Posted at: 06/24/2013 9:53 PM
By: Maria Guerrero, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Businesses in Bernalillo County outside of Albuquerque will have to pay a higher minimum wage starting in one week.

Some businesses in the East Mountains are cautious of the $1.00 increase.

If anyone knows the recipe for small business success it’s Burger Boy in Cedar Crest.

"We're very, very blessed to be part of this community," said co-owner Barbara Johnstad.

The 30-year-old staple in the East Mountains anticipates a relatively smooth transition into the county’s new minimum wage.

The burger joint and about 1,400 other businesses in unincorporated areas of Bernalillo County are impacted.

Johnstad says they already pay most of their employees more than $7.50/hr.

Starting July 1, 2013, minimum wage will go up $0.50 to $8.00/hr.

Then on January 1, 2014, it’ll go up another $0.50 to $8.50/hr.

Johnstad is concerned the hike will affect future hiring, especially of high school students who typically need at least two months of training.

"Ultimately it'll hurt our ability to hire them as the minimum wage goes up,” she said. “I won't be able to maintain the workforce. I'll try to keep the people I have. They have been with us a long time and very loyal."

At Los Cuates in Sandia Park, manager Lily Anzures calculates an estimated 5% increase in payroll with the hike.

“I'm concerned," said Anzures. “And so maybe it's one less person that I'm going to hire. So we really need to really think about what we're voting on and how it's going to impact the smaller businesses.”

Both businesses are relying on good customer service and loyalty to help them adjust.

"We'll see. We'll hope for the best," said Anzures.

The county’s attorney says if a business chooses not to comply with the new county minimum wage, it would be up to an individual employee to sue his/her employer.

He says the county cannot legally get involved.