A second look - Cape city leaders now considering minimum wage increase

A second look - Cape city leaders now considering minimum wage increase
By: CJ Cassidy
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - That's the question Cape Girardeau city leaders are trying to figure out, after a new minimum wage of $6.50 goes into effect statewide.
Now, many folks want to know, if, it's the law, why is there a question of pay raises for part time workers?
Mayor Jay Knudtson tells me city leaders believed most municipalities were exempt from the raise, but they're quickly finding out cape might be the odd one out.
So far, part time city workers have been told not to expect a raise, but there is a good chance that could change.
"It was going to be nice, a dollar more than I was making," Cody Essner says.
Missing out on the minimum wage hike weighs heavily on his mind.
The 19-year-old works at Cape Girardeau's Osage Center.
He's one of more than 200 part timers who recently discovered they wouldn't cash in on the pay raise state voters passed in November.
"It feels unfair," he says.
"There's not a magic wand we have that finds $100,000," mayor Jay Knudtson says.
That's how much he says the city would have to cough up - to pay for a raise; a larger increase than most other cities.
"We're now finding out we might not be in step with many of our surrounding cities and across the state of Missouri. The city council has to take a deeper analysis. We have to be sensitive to morale, and be sensitive to how we're viewed as a city," he explains.
So, where would they find the money?
"We may not be able to hire as many people; we may have to look at increasing fees in some situations. The real impact comes around areas of recreation - our swimming pool that's where you'll find most of our part time workers," Knudtson says.
In fact, the mayor says nothing's off limits so you might even see an increase in fees on city services.
Nonetheless, part timers hope city leaders work out the details quickly, so they get a raise.
"Because they pay less, city leaders are not going to find people to replace the workers who quit," Cody Essner says.
Meanwhile, many of you say it would be unfair not to give part time city workers a raise, when others across the state would benefit from the decision voter's made, even if it means higher fees on certain services.
The mayor says he plans on talking with city council members about the issue very soon, and we'll keep you posted.