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Cincinnati Council Approves Living Wage Increase, Streetcar Operating Funds

Tana Weingartner

Cincinnati City Council has approved a living wage ordinance that means wage increases for city workers. It increases the rate to $15 per hour for full-time employees and $10.10 per hour for part-time workers and contract employees such as Rumpke recycling collectors.Council Member PG Sittenfeld says the increase is an expression of values. "We believe our city employees, and frankly everybody but those that we're responsible for, they put in an honest, hard day's work, there should be dignity and fairness reflected in their paycheck."

Three council members dissented saying the wage discussion should be part of the annual budget negotiation. They're also concerned about the budgetary impacts of increases wages.

Council Member Charlie Winburn says he supports the concept, but not the outcome. "I believe it is not fiscally responsible for the city to implement a $10.10 per hour (wage) for part-time employees at the cost of $488,000 when the city is faced with a budge deficit of approximately $7 million. In addition, I'm opposed to a provision that would require private businesses doing business with the city to pay their workers higher wages at the cost of the business."

Officials estimate the ordinance will add about $1 million to the city budget.

The ordinance passed by a vote of 5-3. Council Member Amy Murray was excused from Wednesday's meeting.

Streetcar Operatoring Funds

Cincinnati Council is giving the go-ahead to a plan to fund the first year of streetcar operations. The plan uses $550,000 from the streetcar construction contingency budget to reimburse the city for money it has already spent on start-up costs. The plan passed with five 'yes' votes. The Mayor could have vetoed it, but says he wants to move on.

Firefighters Contract

Council also approved a new three-year contract for firefighters. It includes three percent annual wage increases. Firefighters will pay a little more for their health insurance coverage. The contract runs through January, 2019.