The Des Moines County Board of Supervisors heard another pitch to raise the county’s minimum wage on Tuesday, the second such pitch this year.
The proposal, put in front of the board by the Hawk Eye Newspaper’s Business Editor, Rex Troute, would increase the county’s wage to $10.10 an hour by 2019.
Troute says that raising the wage would make the county a “leader” in advocating for a higher minimum wage in Iowa, arguing that it would help alleviate the area’s poverty rate.
“We’re not paying our workers enough, and because of that we have a nationwide poverty level of 14%,” Troute said.
Members of the board were skeptical of Troute’s proposal. Board Chair Tom Broeker argued that setting a higher minimum wage would require a bureaucratic expansion that the county couldn’t afford.
“We’re a three man board in a small rural county. We don’t have the expertise, nor the resources,” Broeker said. “Laws need to be enforced. The state has made it clear that it will only enforce $7.25/hr. If the counties want anything else, they’ll have to enforce it themselves,” says Broeker.
Broker argued that an expanded bureaucracy could lead to higher property taxes.
During a previous pitch for an increased minimum wage, made back in September by the Des Moines County Democrats, Broeker argued that increasing the minimum wage would amount to a large increase in labor costs for many businesses, leading to job cuts. That sentiment was echoed by Supervisor Bob Beck, who says he’s been told by area business leaders that an increase in the minimum wage could cause some area small businesses to close their doors.
The board is not expected to bring the issue to vote.