Business/Economy, Edgewater, Featured, Sherrie Peif

Edgewater set to nearly double minimum wage over next five years; city playing catch up with Denver

EDGEWATER — With roughly 5,000 residents and only about one square mile in size, one Denver metro-area municipality is looking to hit its business owners with a substantial increase in costs.

The Edgewater City Council is considering raising its minimum wage for persons employed within its boundaries. In fact, at full implementation the current plan would exceed that of Colorado’s statewide minimum wage, and in five years would be equal to that of neighboring Denver.

Edgewater is a home rule city bordered by Denver to the east, Lakewood to the south and west, and Wheat Ridge to the north.

Currently, minimum wage in Edgewater is equal to the state minimum of $13.65 an hour, with Denver currently at $17.29 per hour and rising annually, pegged to inflation via the regional Consumer Price Index (CPI).

If the Edgewater plan is passed, those numbers would change to $15.02 in 2024, $16.52 in 2025, $18.17 in 2026, $19.99 in 2027, $21.99 in 2028 and $23.16 in 2029. The wage increases are estimates only, as they are based on projected increases in line with CPI inflation, leveling out with Denver by 2029. The actual amounts could be more or less.

However, the city’s website says the wages will be at least more than 10 percent over the statewide minimum wage in 2024 and increase from 2025-2028 by 10 percent annually to eventually catch up to that of Denver by 2029.

Local control only ratchets up

Colorado cities and towns can legally set minimum wage amounts within their boundaries so long as they are not below the state minimum, an amount Edgewater councilmembers do not believe is adequate according to the website.

“The city council believes that amount to be insufficient in Edgewater based on the high cost of living in the Denver metropolitan area, and ongoing inflationary pressures,” the website reads.

The proposal was passed on first reading on April 18. At the meeting Mayor John Beltrone said the discussion has taken place over the past 11 months, and had included “several city council workshops, development of a policy statement shared with the Edgewater community, an extensive staff outreach to the stakeholders, business that employ tipped workers, labor unions, the Chamber of Commerce and various community groups.”

Under the plan, wages for tipped workers would increase annually from 2023-2029 to $10.63, $12, $13.50, $15.15, $16.97, $18.97, and $20.14, respectively. According to the chart, beginning in 2027, tipped employees in Edgewater would make more per hour than any regular workers making minimum wage in Colorado with the exception of Denver.

It appears the Edgewater City Council’s goal is to continue to remain above Colorado’s minimum wage and equal to Denver’s, as the ordinance would allow the city council to increase its minimum wage by as much as 15 precent year-over-year after 2029.

The city could revoke a business license of any business not complying with the new law.

Lackluster outreach

Despite Beltrone’s early statement in the meeting about “extensive staff outreach to the stakeholders,” feedback on the plan was anything but robust according to Edgewater City Manager Dan Maples’ comments in the April 18 meeting. Maples said that a survey sent to businesses that had “some information” about the increases had only had four returned as of the meeting.

“So it’s kind of hard to say,” Maples said. “But we have another blast going out this week, and then we’re also doing phone interviews or phone survey work this week as well. But right now … honestly … it’s probably too minimal to be helpful.”

Maples also mentioned a “blast” that was put out on the city’s “Envision Edgewater,” site as well as emails to all business owners.

“We haven’t seen anything come back on that site yet, as far as feedback,” Maples said, adding he had not received feedback from the emails either.

Edgewater City Councilman Steve Conklin saw the lack of feedback as positive and reason to vote in favor of the ordinance on first reading.

“I think we’ve done everything we need to do in terms of putting it out there,” Conklin said. “And if we don’t have critical, massive feedback coming back and saying that the problems we’ve been afraid of are real issues … but if you were to say the four that we had come back say this is the worst idea in the world, that might give us an idea of a trend.”

Maples said two of the four said it would increase their costs of business, and the other two businesses said nothing. Likewise there was no public comment on the issue. The resolution passed 5-1 with councilman Bill Berg the lone no vote.

Second reading and public hearing is scheduled for May 2.


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