(CBS4) – The Aurora City Council on Monday night voted down a proposal to raise the minimum wage. The current minimum wage is $12 an hour. If it had been approved by council, it would have go up to $17 an hour by 2025. The measure failed on a 6-5 vote.
Comida, a restaurant at the Stanley Marketplace, said such an increase would have made a difficult year of navigating COVID-19 restrictions even harder. But for residents working in the city, they say the current minimum wage isn’t enough to make ends meet.
“It came out of left field,” said Comida owner, Rayme Rossello. “I didn’t think it was going to be on the docket, especially the day before the election.”
As some businesses deal with 25 percent capacity limits due to COVID-19, Rossello says the concept was coming at a difficult time.
“We’re paying close to what the $17 hike is at this point in time to a lot of our staff, but to take everybody up there, and that be the place that we start from, is a scary thing,” Rossello said. “I think this time in particular, right now during a pandemic, a hundred-year pandemic, it’s a lot to ask.”
For now, owners like Rossello say a minimum wage increase would leave them in a tough spot.
“I love my employees, I want to do better all the time for my employees, and I want to be able to continue to employ them and give them the hours that they need so they can go home and do what they need to pay their bills,” she said. “If we raise our prices on our menu, then everybody loses.”
The Colorado Restaurant Association urged Aurora city council members to vote no. Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman has also been vocal about his opposition. But residents who live and work in Aurora said such an increase would have ensured some financial stability during a turbulent time.