Increased Minimum Wage Raises Debate with Flagstaff Locals

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Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 10:26 pm

A new city minimum wage of $12 an hour took effect Jan. 1 and will continue to raise to $15 an hour by 2022. Individuals and small-business owners are adjusting to the change with mixed reactions.

Fratelli Pizza co-owner Brent Schepper says the business model for his eatery has been modified to reflect the increase in employee wages. These changes include a service charge of 10 percent in lieu of raising prices. All Fratelli employees are paid $15 an hour or more, which Schepper says helps hold them accountable. Kitchen manager Ethan Gooby says the new minimum has helped him financially with costs of living, car payments and student debt.

Other small-business owners are finding the increased minimum wage problematic. Starlite Lanes owner Ronald Getto says he can no longer afford to hire inexperienced workers at what used to be an entry-level job; staff must have demonstrated practice managing customer needs and complaints. Getto says that although the thinks healthcare is important for all employees, he worries about having the financial ability to provide it to them.

A neutral party in this decision is the Office of Labor Standards. Representative Cliff Bryson says the office addresses concerns and violations surrounding wages by investigating employee claims. The main goal of the office, he says, is to educate people about minimum wage violations.

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