Should Amendment 2 pass this November and the minimum wage is hiked to $15-an-hour by 2026, what kind of effect would it have on the coffers of county government and the cities of Crystal River and Inverness?
The Chronicle asked representatives from all three entities and here's what they said:
Randy Oliver: County
County Administrator Randy Oliver said the passage of Amendment 2 could have a negative impact on the local economy, be detrimental to seniors and lead to lower morale among county employees.
The county’s current lowest paid wage bracket starts at $10.19 per hour effective Oct. 1, 2020. Assuming a 3% increase per year, the lowest salary would increase to $11.90 by 2026.
The cost to bring all employees up to $15 per hour per the schedule called for in Amendment 2, would be about $200,000 per year for four years starting Oct. 2, 2022 and affect 194 employees, Oliver said.
“If Amendment 2 was effective today, would it be fair to increase the $10.19 per-hour person to $15 per hour and allow the person making $15.01 to remain the same?” he asked. “(There) is an equity and fairness issue.”
Oliver envisions those higher-paid employees approaching the county and saying: “What have I been working for and what are you going to do for me and it’s a very valid question.”
He believes the fairness aspect of the amendment and adjusting other pay brackets isn't getting much attention and has not been taken into consideration.
A statewide minimum wage also does not account for the fact that the cost of living in Citrus County is significantly less than Hillsborough, Miami-Dade or other metropolitan areas, he said. Oliver said compensation is a function of education and/or skills people have obtained and how they use those skills to benefit their employer.
“Employees are paid based on the value to their employer,” he said. “This change will impact an employer’s overall compensation system and the costs of goods and services.”
Ken Frink: Crystal River
If at least 60% of voting Floridians want to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15, Crystal River won’t see a major financial impact until the last year of the law’s implementation.
City Manager Ken Frink said there will be a $300,000 hit to the city’s budget in 2026, the fifth and final year when employers have to increase worker pay from the current minimum wage of $8.46 an hour.
“It will affect all of our funds,” Frink said.
Wages must reach $10 an hour starting on Sept. 30, 2021; $11 in 2022, $12 in 2023, $13 in 2024; $14 in 2025; and $15 in 2026.
Of the 42 Crystal River city employees — six of whom are part-time — 20 are paid below the $15 mark, Frink said.
While in favor of the wage raise, Frink said tax and utility payers will be the ones paying the burden for it to happen.
“I’m always in support of people making more money,” he said, “… but it has to be paid for somehow.”
Eric Williams: Inverness
Inverness City Manager Eric Williams said if Amendment 2 passes and Florida’s minimum wage is increased incrementally to $10 per hour by September 2021 and $15 per hour by 2026, his city staff will not be affected.
He said his staff’s current salaries already meet and exceed 2021 requirements if the amendment were to pass. The city has 40 full-time and 12 part-time employees.
In addition, city employee salaries would also keep up with the rising minimum wage if city employee raises are implemented as expected, he said.
As for private sector salaries in the city, Williams said much of the city’s businesses are service-based.
He said if those salaries increase, it will affect the overall cost of doing business and “the hope is it would not force them to close.”
But Williams said he sees city businesses adapting to the pay hikes if the amendment passes and doubts many businesses would close their doors as a result.
“I don’t see it as a large, large cost,” he said.