Memphis to hike minimum wage over $15 an hour

Photo illustration of a man holding money. According to WHBQ, 420 employees of the city of Memphis, Tennessee, are about to get a raise to an hourly rate that is more than twice the state and federal minimum wage average.

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Photo illustration of a man holding money. According to WHBQ, 420 employees of the city of Memphis, Tennessee, are about to get a raise to an hourly rate that is more than twice the state and federal minimum wage average.

What was once an idea on paper will be official as early as next month.

According to WHBQ, 420 employees of the city of Memphis, Tennessee, are about to get a raise to an hourly rate that is more than twice the state and federal minimum wage average.

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"I think it's real nice, real good," said taxpayer Clifford Joseph.

The raise comes thanks to a resolution that passed the budget committee to give every city employee a base minimum wage of $15.50 an hour.

Council found the $1 million needed to fund the extra salaries by making small cuts to other departments.

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No tax increase is necessary either, even though Joseph said he would be OK with one if needed.

“It would be worth it to me; I think they deserve it. They're out there working hard in this hot sun, rain, sleet, snow,” he said.

Mayor Jim Strickland’s budget proposal allocated $1.4 million to bring some employee salaries up to industry standards.

The rest of that money will go to the minimum wage increase, which is an idea first thought up by Councilman Edmund Ford Jr. who said, “If we want to talk about living wage we have to do more than talk we have to actually do something.”

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The money will also cover something called compression.

That will ensure supervisors make more than the employees they oversee.

“Let’s say that I’m your boss, you're the subordinate. I'm making $15 now, you're making $12 now. Well, according to this resolution, if I just did a flat $15.50, you and I would be making the same salaries,” Ford added.

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The budget is expected to be voted on and passed next week.

The raises would go into effect on July 1, 2018.

Ford will make a resolution next week to get all part-time workers to $15.50 an hour.

He said that would cost about $6 million but says the time to start that debate should start now for possibly a year or two down the road.