By Ramona du Houx
The Portland City Council Finance Committee will hold a public hearing on the proposed citywide minimum wage increase Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 5 p.m. in the City Hall.
Councilor Nick Mavodones Jr., the committee chairman said he expects the panel to vote on forwarding the ordinance to the full City Council. The new ordinance would create a minimum wage of $9.50 per hour beginning Jan. 1, 2016.
Then the minimum wage would increase to $10.10 on Jan. 1, 2017 and $10.68 on Jan. 1, 2018, and be tied to any increase in the urban measure of the Consumer Price Index afterwards.
“Let's hope that Portland will lead the way,” said Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci. Earlier this year, Councilor Baldacci proposed a draft ordinance to raise the Bangor minimum wage to $8.25 an hour, effective Jan. 1, 2016, with additional increases to $9 an hour by 2017 and $9.75 an hour by 2018. Under his proposal, the citywide minimum wage thereafter would increase each year in conjunction with the previous year's consumer price index.
The new Portland City minimum wages would cover all public and private employees. It would also require employers who pay the state-allowed “tipped wage” to employees earning at least $30 per month in tips — to make up the difference if wages do not reach the new minimum.
The Portland Green Independent Committee is gathering signatures for a citizen initiative to create a $15-per-hour wage for private businesses by Jan. 1, 2019. They need 1,500 certified signatures to put the question on the Nov. 3 ballot. This citizen initiative will also require a public hearing before a referendum.