BANGOR, Maine — The city’s new minimum wage has been delayed six months to give officials time to monitor how the state will implement a statewide wage increase passed at referendum in November.
With Councilor Gibran Graham opposing, the City Council voted 6-1 on Monday night to move the effective date of the city’s ordinance from Jan. 1 to July 1, 2017. Chairman Joe Baldacci and Councilor David Nealley were absent.
At previous meetings, councilors had discussed repealing the city’s minimum wage increase, which would bump the present statewide minimum wage of $7.50 per hour to $8.25 per hour effective Jan. 1. The repeal, they thought, would be a necessary bookkeeping measure, as the state’s increase, to $9 per hour, would likely go into effect by Jan. 8 and would supercede Bangor’s ordinance.
State law mandates that the higher hourly wage go into effect.
Yet leaving Bangor’s ordinance on the books would inconvenience city wage-payers by forcing them to alter their payments to minimum wage earners twice in a week.
Councilors also were concerned that while it might be unlikely, Gov. Paul LePage, or other wage-increase foes in the state Legislature, would water down the statewide increase within the next several months. With Bangor’s increase repealed, a diminished minimum wage law would leave Bangor’s minimum wage workers without the economic aid councilors felt they deserved when the measure was passed in December 2015.
The council’s vote on Monday night addresses both concerns. The action leaves the city ordinance ready for implementation or alteration should the state law change while giving councilors plenty of time to monitor LePage and state legislators as the new statewide minimum wage goes into effect, Baldacci said Tuesday.
During Monday’s meeting, Graham said the council should keep its word to Bangor’s minimum wage earners and that the ordinance would inconvenience local businesses only slightly, if at all.