ST. LOUIS - Beginning Friday, the minimum wage in the city of St. Louis will rise to $10 an hour, up from the statewide minimum wage of $7.65.
The city says it is mailing notices to employers and expects them to voluntarily comply with the new law. Any employers who don't comply are subject to prosecution in Municipal Court and may lose their business or occupancy permits.
The change comes after the Missouri Supreme Court declined to get involved in a fight over raising the minimum wage.
In February, the court rejected claims by business groups that setting a wage higher than the state's would spawn regulatory confusion.
But the court refused to revisit the issue, ending the debate.
The ordinance sets a $10-an-hour minimum wage in the city this year, climbing to $11 on January 1, 2018.
Mayor Lyda Krewson calls the increase "good for our city's economy" and "a win for our city's working families."
Some employers say the increase will provide a better quality of life.
"Giving more to those with the greatest need is always my first impulse,” said the co-owner of Lona’s Lil Eats, Pierce Powers. Pierce and his wife, Lona, are the co-owners of the restaurant along California Avenue.
"As a boss, I think it's very important to understand how everyone is feeling, how our workers are feeling," Lona said. The couple feels increased minimum wages will give people a better life.
"They can support their family and also they can spend some spoil stuff."
Others, though, particularly small business owners, are concerned the hike has unintended consequences.
Opponents to the increase say what people don’t understand is how harmful this is for small business owners, like the owners of Urban Eats in Dutchtown.
"It's not that people don’t want to pay their employees more, they do, it's the manner in which it's being implemented that is so distressing," said Caya Aufiero, who is the co-owner of Urban Eats, with her husband John Aufiero.
They say one purpose of Urban Eats is to revitalize the Dutchtown neighborhood.
“Effectively, this will drive the only ones who want to be in these developing neighborhoods, it will drive those businesses out of these neighborhoods altogether."
Graham Renz, a policy researcher, at the St. Louis think tank Show Me Institute, says businesses are going to have to account for those increased costs through higher prices, laying off workers, or taking a hit in profit.
Concerned business owners also mention that they’re already contenting with city income tax. So, they’re having to pay additional money out of their pockets on top of that.
The city has established an email address to help answer questions any employers or employees may have at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions about the new law can also be directed to (314) 589-6735.
More information about the law can be found at http://stlouis-mo.gov/minimum-wage.
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