Louisville Metro Council draws closer to minimum wage vote - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville Metro Council draws closer to minimum wage vote

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville's Metro Council is close to possibly making a decision on increasing the minimum wage.

Whether to raise it is a hot topic. Some say it will help workers, but others believe it will hurt local business.

The last public comment session on the issue was held Monday night. Both sides addressed council members to make sure their voices were heard.

"So it's going to cost an extra 24% to come out and eat in my restaurant. The only way I'm going to recover these costs is by increasing my prices," said John Varanese, who has owned a restaurant on Frankfort Avenue for seven years.

Varanese, which bears his last name, was built from the ground up. He believes increasing the minimum wage could tear it down.

"We manage things by percentages and when things don't fit into those percentages profits disappear," said Varanese.

The proposal facing Louisville Metro Council members is to increase the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour by 2017.

Eight council members currently support it, but six more are needed for it to pass. If that happens Mayor Greg Fischer, who has reservations about the plan, could veto it. That would mean four more council members would need to support it to override his decision.

Twenty people, including Varanese, addressed a council committee Monday night. Ten against and 10 in favor of bumping the minimum wage.

"The reality is that no one is going to voluntarily give low-paid workers a decent wage increase, so that has to be instituted by government," said Jerry Hodapp.

"When you keep taking away these safety nets which I know they're talking about unemployment, disability, social security and all this stuff will be taken away,” said Reuben Pulliam, ”when you get rid of all these safety nets and the rich have theirs, we have a revolution because nobody has anything to fall back on."

But Varanese, whose 35 employees all make more than minimum wage, says an increase to their paychecks would translate to the table.

"Now my customer has to come out and spend seven more dollars so I can make the same percentage of profit based on before the minimum wage increase," said Varanese.

The issue heads to a committee vote on Thursday.

If it passes there, it could go in front of the full council as soon as November 20th.

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