AUSTIN (KXAN) — As Austin has become pricey, city employees making minimum wage have had their pay rate remain flat at $15 per hour.
That could change today, as Austin City Council will review the fiscal year 2022-23 budget.
Back in June, council unanimously passed a resolution that made their number one priority in this budget cycle to raise the minimum wage for city employees.
City Manager Spencer Cronk has proposed a living wage increase from $15 per hour to $18 per hour. If passed, this 4% raise would be the largest wage increase in more than 20 years in Austin.
Yet, some are saying it’s still not enough.
District 2 Council Member Vanessa Fuentes is pushing to raise the minimum wage to $20 an hour, which equates to making around $42,000 a year. This morning, she’ll host a rally with other local leaders at city hall.
“This is about ensuring that we’re addressing our vacant positions,” she said. “It is about paying employees, so that they can actually live in the city that they serve, and it’s about addressing the rising costs of what it takes to live in Austin.”
According to a city spokesperson, there’s currently a 17% shortage across all departments.
This summer, 14 public pools were closed due to a lack of lifeguards. Barton Springs lifeguard Scott Cobb said these trends will continue unless the minimum wage is raised to $22 per hour.
“The City of Austin has a crisis with the number of people willing to do the jobs that we need to operate as a city at this going rate,” he said. “Eighteen per hour is way low if it goes to $18.”
To maintain its workforce, the city manager is proposing a $1,500 retention bonus for all employees with tenure over one year — even temporary ones.
If city council approves a raise and bonus, employees could see it go into effect in October.
Due to improved tax projections, the city’s financial staff recently discovered a surplus of $12.2 million, meaning council members may also be in line for a raise wage themselves.