Breckenridge Town Council opts out of minimum wage increase until more data is collected |

Breckenridge Town Council opts out of minimum wage increase until more data is collected

Breckenridge Town Council members Dick Carleton, left, and Gary Gallagher.
Courtesy Joe Kusumoto

BRECKENRIDGE — The minimum wage conversation that has been going on at the county level since September was on the agenda Tuesday at Breckenridge Town Council’s work session.

Council member Dick Carleton, who attended the most recent Summit County work group meeting, shared the results of the minimum wage survey that went out to employers and employees in late October. 

“The county is looking for an indication of whether each town in the county would support an increase in minimum wage,” Carleton said. 

Carleton explained that there have been many suggestions about how to go about a minimum wage increase, one of which included a four-year plan with incremental increases. Based on state law, the county cannot raise the minimum wage by more than $1.75 an hour or 15% annually, whichever is higher. 

Carleton pointed out that they could put a placeholder down, increasing the minimum wage by only a nickel or quarter for now and giving the option to do a more significant increase later on. 

The reason the county is wanting to get an increase on the books is because state law limits to 10% the number of local governments that can increase minimum wage. So if Summit County doesn’t jump in on minimum wage increases in a timely manner, it could lose the option to do so.

The county is seeking an intergovernmental agreement, but Breckenridge Town Council members brought up that Frisco and Dillon are not interested in a minimum wage increase.

“I think our efforts are better spent helping people attain housing and make their earnings go further,” council member Wendy Wolfe said. 

Council member Jeffrey Bergeron agreed with Wolfe and listed the many social and housing programs the town of Breckenridge has put into place. 

“It seems like every week we come in here and try to do something to make our town more affordable. I’d like to see the county and other towns do the same thing,” said Bergeron, who called a minimum wage raise nothing more than a “feel-good thing to do.”

Council members Kelly Owens and Erin Gigliello voiced more support for a minimum wage raise.

“Two or three dollars more in the pocket an hour does feel good,” Owens said. 

Carleton noted that some employees voiced concern in the comments of the survey that their already too-expensive rent might go up if wages were raised. Owens and Gigliello were skeptical of the legitimacy of this concern.

All council members agreed they didn’t have enough information to give a definitive answer. 

“We’d have to understand what the plan is in order to move forward,” Owens said. 

“I don’t think we have the data to be informed,” Bergeron said, pointing out that the survey doesn’t reveal how many people in the county are currently at minimum wage.

Bergeron also said he feels the commissioners are hurrying the process because they are approaching the end of their terms. 

“I think there is support to continue the conversation,” Owens said.

Council as a whole decided it is not in support of increasing the minimum wage until more data is gathered.

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