Osceola Commissioners to Decide Whether to Pay County Workers More
Minimum wage would increase to $11.66 starting next year and go up ten percent over the next four years under the proposed ordinance that commissioners will vote on tonight. The proposed new rate is $3.61 higher than the state’s current minimum wage, which proponents like Leah Carius, chair of the Osceola County Democratic Club, call a “fair living wage.”
“Having these low-paying jobs in our county so that even full-time employees have to seek government assistance, that’s us paying for it in the long term,” she says. “If we can get companies to pay their staff a living wage, that helps us all.”
Carius believes the new rate would bring the county’s labor force above the federal poverty level and transform the area’s economy by giving otherwise transient labor a reason to settle there.
But for District 5 commissioner Fred Hawkins, Jr., raising the minimum wage would just run up the tax payers’ bills for services with higher price tags.
“Osceola County does not have a tax base of Orange County and Seminole County. You’re chasing business away with these ordinances, and I wanted to ask my fellow board members that’ll support this, what do you do when they money runs out from the taxpayers?”
Hawkins Jr. also fears the hike could discourage businesses from contracted with the county.
He says access to benefits is more important that access to a higher wage.
Commissioners will vote on the proposed ordinance tonight.
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