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Economy / Business

All St. Petersburg city employees will soon make at least $15 an hour

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The change in minimum wage for St. Petersburg city workers will raise the salaries of 211 employees beginning in April.

St. Petersburg officials announced last week the city would raise the base wage for all city employees to $15 an hour beginning April 1.

Right now, the cost of rent in St. Petersburg is skyrocketing, gas prices are on the rise, and grocery bills are a little tougher on the wallet.

While it’s become more expensive to live in the "Sunshine City," wages have remained stagnant for many workers.

St. Petersburg officials announced last week the base wage for all city employees would be raised to $15 an hour beginning April 1.

The City Council initially raised the minimum base pay to $15 an hour in 2015, but the policy exempted part-time employees with less than five years with the city.

St. Pete Mayor Ken Welch said he was made aware during a budget discussion that the base wage was not $15 an hour across the board for city workers — adding that amending it was the right thing to do.

"I'm glad we were able to make that adjustment for our hard working employees,” he said. “And we expect them to really set the standard for public service, but we ought to pay everyone at least a living wage and that's what we're doing."

He said this increase should make a difference in workers’ lives.

"With all the stresses and inflationary issues that folks are trying to deal with right now, I believe that everyone should be paid that living wage including our part-time folks as well."

A living wage helps people get out of poverty and build wealth, Welch said, adding that wages need to keep up as costs rise, and the city will increase pay accordingly to the extent it can.

The change will raise the salaries of 211 employees beginning in April.

"It was the right time to do it," he said. "I'm glad we were able to do that sooner rather than waiting a few years to make that happen."

Officials estimate the pay increase will cost about $218,000 for the abbreviated 2022 fiscal year and $495,000 for the 2023 fiscal year.

Similarly, Mayor Jane Castor raised Tampa's minimum wage for city employees to $15 an hour in 2019. Bradenton's hourly wage for employees starts at $10 an hour.

The news follows Florida voters' 2020 passage of a state law that incrementally raises the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026.

Lawmakers are attempting to raise the minimum wage for all public school workers as well as other state employees to $15 an hour beginning in the 2022-23 school year.

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