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City considers cost of state minimum wage increase

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Mayor Dennis Kintigh, top right, shares insights on proposed bills that would raise the state’s minimum wage during a conversation on how that would affect the city of Roswell. (Alison Penn Photo)

The city of Roswell is planning ahead for personnel costs in case the state’s minimum wage is raised and preparing for the annual budgeting process for Fiscal Year 2020.

Finance Director Monica Garcia said during the Roswell City Council’s Finance Committee meeting that her department performed an analysis of legislation proposing minimum wage increases.

No formal action was taken during the committee meeting and the city’s finance staff gave their recommendations.

Becky Hicks, supervising senior accountant, said the finance department hasn’t discussed the impact with human resources staff at this time.

Background 

The Legislature is currently reviewing House Bill 31, to raise the minimum wage from $7.50 hourly to $10 this year and eventually $12; and House Bill 46 to raise the minimum wage to $15 in 2020.

HB 31 would increase the minimum wage in phases, remove the minimum wage exception for tipped employees and beginning in 2022, an annual cost-of-living increase would also affect the state’s minimum wage.

According to the New Mexico Legislature’s website, HB 31 was recommended for passage by the Economic Development Committee on Monday.

City Manager Joe Neeb said the New Mexico Municipal League has indicated there is more support for HB 31. As far as HB 46, Mayor Dennis Kintigh said he has heard there is not as much support.

Minimum wage 

“These minimum wage increases — we can’t really afford to change our entire comp plan based on what the state does with the minimum wage …” Hicks said.

If either bill is passed, Hicks said the city staff’s recommendation was to block out steps in the city’s comprehensive plan to account for the increases.

Hicks shared a chart listing “rough numbers” for FY 2020, which are subject to change based on a future cost of living increase.

Hicks said the increase would cost $2,800, with one person impacted, in the first year; $9,000 the next year when more employees are included; and in 2022 is estimated to cost an additional $36,000 for salaries.

Prompted by Councilor Steve Henderson, Hicks clarified that the amount discussed does not include employee benefits. For benefits, Henderson said the city would add about 30 percent to the cost and Hicks agreed.

Kintigh said he approved of the city looking into the matter before it passed and thanked Chairman Caleb Grant for putting the item on the meeting’s agenda.

Saying he didn’t want to be “flying blind,” Kintigh noted his objective was to increase the city’s awareness in case of “an impact in the budgeting process” and added it appears the “impacts are minimal and absorbable.”

Grant said he saw the benefit of having information available in the event of the measure passing, and Stubbs agreed.

Other finance 

In other city finance news, Garcia is on schedule to bring the city’s departments on board with the Tyler Technologies software upgrade and the finance department is prioritizing having the budget on the new system this fiscal year.

Grant said the city’s revenue projections were not available for the meeting. He said the plan is to have a special finance meeting later this month for those projections, and have them finalized in March.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.