Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Councilwoman Robin Kniech on Monday submitted their final proposal for increasing the city’s minimum wage to over $15 an hour to the Denver City Council.
The mayor’s office said in a news release the revised proposal “confronts wage inequity and cost of living affordability” following five town halls and other meetings with stakeholders and residents over six weeks.
“Increasing people’s wages, so they can afford to live in Denver and continue contributing to and benefiting from Denver’s success, is what this proposal is all about,” Hancock said. “I’m thankful to everyone who has given us their feedback and voiced their thoughts, because it has led to a better and stronger bill to support Denver residents.”
Businesses and business groups – which expressed concerns over the initial proposal – received some concessions in the revised proposal.
The initial proposal sought to raise the city’s minimum wage to $13.80 starting Jan. 1 and to $15.87 starting Jan. 1, 2021. The revised proposal more incrementally raises wages: from $12.85 in 2020, to $14.77 in 2021, and to $15.87 in 2022.
“We also heard that a smaller first step and spreading the proposal out over an additional year would help our small, locally owned businesses better prepare and adapt to higher wages – we heard you too and will be making these adjustments,” Councilwoman Kniech said.
The Colorado Restaurant Association last week threatened to sue the city over the proposal.
“We believe this revised proposal is a step in the right direction, and we appreciate the city’s willingness to slow down this increase,” Colorado Restaurant Association CEO Sonia Riggs said in a statement to The Center Square. “However, we don’t believe any municipality can legally raise the minimum wage above the State minimum wage until January 1, 2021 – and Denver is proposing to do so January 1, 2020.”
Riggs also said the proposal would “substantially worsen the disparity” between tipped and non-tipped restaurant workers.
The state legislature paved the way for Denver’s proposal when it passed legislation allowing local governments to establish their own minimum wage. Hancock and the City Council previously approved a $15 minimum wage for city workers.
The first citywide minimum wage raise would take effect Jan. 1 and impact 90,000 workers in the city, the mayor’s office said.
The revised proposal will be discussed by City Council this week.