Linn County supervisors postpone second vote on minimum wage ordinance

Ordinance to be amended; next vote set for 10 a.m. Wednesday

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CEDAR RAPIDS — The second vote on a Linn County minimum wage ordinance was postponed Tuesday as the Board of Supervisors seeks to have language added to bolster its case in pursuing the measure.

The second of three required votes was tabled after a proposal from Supervisor Brent Oleson to have the county attorney’s office add language to the ordinance draft.

“I support this, but I want to make sure we get this right,” Oleson said of the minimum wage ordinance that would raise the local rate to $10.25 by 2019.

The board now plans to vote on the second reading during Wednesday’s 10 a.m. formal meeting at the Jean Oxley Public Service Center, 935 Second St. SW. After a second vote, no substantial changes are to be made to the ordinance.

Currently, the ordinance draft states the county has home rule authority when passing a minimum wage ordinance that puts the rate higher than the state and federal rate of $7.25 an hour. The Johnson County Board of Supervisors also cited home rule authority in its minimum wage ordinance, which passed last November.

Specific language to be added to Linn County’s ordinance was not discussed Tuesday, but supervisors said it is to include mention of the county’s many social services programs, which come at a cost to the county and aid low-income residents.

Supervisors hope the added language further strengthens their case for passing the minimum wage ordinance.

The board last week voted 4-1 — with District 5 Supervisor John Harris in the minority — in favor of a countywide ordinance that would raise the minimum wage by a dollar a year until it reaches $10.25 at the start of 2019.

In that vote, the board removed draft language from the ordinance that would have implemented future annual increases to the local rate based on data from the Consumer Price Index’s Midwest region. An ordinance requires three votes to pass.

If a countywide ordinance is approved, city councils would have the option of going along with the measure or passing their own counter ordinance.

Meanwhile, other counties across Iowa are taking up the minimum wage discussion.

Lee County’s Board of Supervisors could vote as soon as next week on whether or not to form a study group to explore the impact of a minimum wage ordinance, according to county staff.

Polk County’s minimum wage task force decided on a final recommendation to the county’s Board of Supervisors to raise the minimum wage to $10.75 an hour by 2019. The recommendation includes a cost of living adjustment and setting a youth wage at 85 percent of the minimum wage.

Wapello County Board of Supervisors are in the midst of three readings of a minimum wage ordinance that would begin three annual 95-cent increases on Jan. 1, 2017. The minimum rate in that county would reach $10.10 in 2019, if it passes the board.

Johnson County was the first in Iowa to adopt a higher minimum wage ordinance. The ordinance passed the five-member board last year, and this May marked the second of three 95-cent-an-hour increases to the county rate. On Jan. 1, it reaches $10.10 an hour. Future increases in Johnson County are tied to the consumer price index.

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