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Wichita City Council sets $15 minimum hourly wage for employees

Wichita City Council.png
Posted at 11:50 AM, Aug 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-25 12:51:43-04

WICHITA, Kan. — Full-time city employees in Wichita will be paid a minimum of $15 an hour, as part of a $670 million budget approved by the City Council.

Wichita officials had earlier predicted the city would face a $10 million to $11 million shortfall because of the coronavirus. But the city will received $70 million from the federal American Recovery Plan Act and unexpected increases in sales tax revenues.

With those funds, the city plans to fill jobs that were kept vacant, starting with 139 civilian positions and seven police officers, The Wichita Eagle reported.

The new minimum wage was approved Tuesday, after Esau Freeman, business manager of the union that represents city employees, said Wichita should raises wages for all city employees. He said the union supports the minimum wage but only a few of its members will benefit from it.

"I think there was around 70 to 80 people (in line for raises) and half of them were a whole three cents away from $15 an hour," Freeman said. The union represents between 800 and 900 workers.

Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple told KAKE-TV that he believes the current minimum wage is between $12 and $13 an hour.

The minimum wage in Kansas is $7.25 and hasn't changed since 2010.

Missouri voters passed a proposition in 2018, which will increase the state's minimum wage to $12 by 2023, bumping up $0.85 each year beginning in 2019. It's currently $10.30.

Jackson County announced in February 2020 that it would raise its minimum wage for county employees to $15 in 2022. It jumped to $13.75 in 2021.

Kansas City, Missouri, voters signed off on a $15 minimum wage in 2017 only to have the increase undercut by the Missouri legislature, which enacted a law that prohibits cities from raising the minimum wage above the state minimum wage after voters in St. Louis and KCMO had weighed in.

KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas introduced an ordinance in November 2020 requiring certain city-affiliated entities to raise their minimum wage and introduced another ordinance in July 2021 to increase the minimum wage for city employees to $15.

KSHB 41 Digital In-Depth Reporter Tod Palmer contributed to this report.