ABI monitors Polk County minimum wage task force

August 4, 2016

A 13-member task force looking at raising the minimum wage in Polk County met Monday, and agreed to recommend a three year stair-stepped minimum wage increase to $10.75 by 2019. The state and federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour.

The task force discussed when the first increase to $8.75 per hour would be implemented—either January 1or April 1 of 2017. With the intent to give businesses time to implement the first wage increase, task force members chose April 1. The second and third wage increases to $9.75 and $10.75 would take effect January 1 of 2018 and 2019 respectively. The group also agreed that after the $10.75 level is reached, a Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase should be considered each year.

Polk County Supervisor and chairman of the task force, Tom Hockensmith said, “In the third year, we will be the highest minimum (wage) of any local government in the state of Iowa and the highest minimum of any state in the Midwest adjacent to Iowa.”

Discussion on a lower “youth wage” for 14-17-year-olds and a freeze on tipped wages for employees who are tipped, such as in restaurants and bars, were discussed but not agreed upon. The task force will look more closely at a separate wage for “travel and wait time” for home health aide employees who are paid a lower wage between scheduled work time.

The task force will meet again and make recommendations to the Polk County Supervisors on what to include in the final minimum wage ordinance.
Other counties have moved forward with their own minimum wage increases. Johnson County voted to increase its minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by January 2017. Linn County formed a similar task force that recently recommended establishing an $8.25-per-hour minimum wage by January.