Minimum wage raise to be voted on in BernCo

Posted at: 04/23/2013 5:46 PM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Minimum wage workers in Bernalillo County could soon be making more money.

Commissioners are meeting Tuesday evening to vote on whether the minimum wage should be raised a dollar, to $8.50 an hour, the same as Albuquerque's minimum wage rate.

Local restaurants and those in the service industry fear a higher county minimum wage the most.  But it is such a heated issue, so controversial, few business owners are willing to publicly speak about it.

On the outskirts of city limits, there is a vineyard and a place where people go to enjoy beautiful scenery and taste local wines.

John Calvin has been running Casa Rondena since 1995.

When Calvin hears about minimum wage possibly increasing to $8.50, one thing comes to mind.

"The hospitality and service industry, where Casa Rondena is, will suffer a great deal," Calvin said.  "They will actually not hire people that they otherwise would have hired."

Calvin pays his employees above minimum wage; that is his choice.

But he fears for other business owners in the county who do not have that luxury.

"When you have 50 or 60 employees in a restaurant business, and you have to face even a dollar an hour difference, it really goes to the bottom line," Calvin said.

A change could down to difficult decisions for those in charge.

"I think a person should be paid based upon their abilities and their impetuous and enthusiasm rather than have the nanny state telling the employer that they have to pay someone a certain amount whether they're worth it or not," Calvin said.

Popular restaurant owners, who would not speak on-camera, told KOB Eyewitness News 4 a dollar pay increase across the board could mean at least $100,000 more per year in payroll.

This could translate into layoffs or higher prices at favorite restaurants across town.


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