Richmond minimum wage hike proposals face council vote

Sales tax rates in El Cerrito and Richmond increase on Wednesday

Richmond voters could decide in November whether the city’s minimum wage should increase to $11 an hour  — or even higher.

On Thursday, Councilman Tom Butt announced that council will be asked on March 18 to approve placing one of three wage rates before voters on the Nov. 4 ballot. Hourly rates of $11, $12.30 or $15 are proposed – each a significant jump from the state rate of $8.

Richmond businesses with fewer than 10 employees would be exempt.

San Francisco currently has the nation’s highest minimum wage at $10.74 an hour, and it will increase to $11 next year. San Jose’s is $10.15. In Oakland, there’s a push to increase the minimum from $8 to $12.25.

Councilman Jovanka Beckles proposed the Richmond minimum wage hikes earlier this year, citing the high cost of living in the Bay Area. She has said that higher paid workers will spend more money in the city, thus helping local businesses.

Business leaders disagreed, saying the wage hikes could cause hiring freezes at Richmond companies and increase unemployment. Richmond’s unemployment rate of 10.5 percent in December was the lowest in the city since June 2008.