NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey is on a mission to raise the minimum wage for North Charleston city employees to $15 an hour, he announced Monday.
Right now, the mayor said the lowest minimum wage for full-time city employees is $10.30 an hour.
"How do people live off of $20,000 a year anymore. The cost of living has gone up so high," Mayor Summey said. "If we expect to entice and keep good employees, then we're going to have to pay them a fair wage to live off of. Our goal is to be $31,200 for any entry level, full-time position in the city of North Charleston by Jan. 2019."
According to the mayor, around 80 employees of the 1,100 city workers would be affected by the increase, if approved by city council. Many of the works are in entry-level positions in the Public Works Dept., including sanitation workers, and Recreation Dept., the mayor said.
The mayor is proposing the increase take place over a three-year time frame, starting in Jan. 2017.
Next year, the proposed minimum wage would be $12 an hour, following by an increase to $13.50 rate Jan. 2018 before landing at the $15 hourly wage in Jan. 2019.
Mayor Summey estimates the first half year's increase to cost the city an additional $81,000.
"By Jan. 2019," Mayor Summey said, "a full year cost to implement it will be about $1.5 million."
He said that represents 1% of the budget.
"It's not a restriction on any businesses or anybody that wants to do businesses with the city of North Charleston," Mayor Summey said. "This is just our way of trying to establish an example."
Mayor Summey expects city council to vote on the proposed increase in October for possible implementation next January.
The current minimum wage for City of Charleston employees is also $10.30/hour.
The federal minimum wage for covered nonexempt employees is $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009