Politics

 The chairman of Louisville’s Labor and Economic Committee showed a hint of confidence Monday evening that the Metro Council will move to a vote on a proposal to raise the local minimum wage by the end of the year.

Though a council meeting is set for Thursday, Councilman David Tandy, a Democrat representing District 4 in Louisville who chairs of the Labor and Economic Committee, said the proposal is just “not ready yet” for a vote. Tandy made the comments Monday during a public  discussion on the issue.

He said it is the “intent” of the council to vote at a Dec. 4 meeting. That being said, the councilman added he has “learned here at the council to never say that anything is concrete.”

“But it is firming,” he added.

Tandy said there is legal discussion still to be heard on the issue, which will come on Thursday from attorneys that are both for and against the proposal. Only one resident of the 20 people who signed up to speak during Monday’s public discussion did not show.

Equal time was given to those residents and local business owners who are for and against raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. Buddy Mattingly, the chief financial officer of Tumbleweed restaurant, said raising the minimum wage will not bring resolution to the qualms those who favor the proposal seek to address.

“I don’t think this ordinance provides the answer they’re looking for to bring people out of poverty, to bring wage equality, to stimulate the economy,” he said.  “It does none of the three.”

He said people live in poverty because they are unemployed or they don’t work enough hours, not because they make minimum wage. But Bradley Mitchell said he works plenty—he has a full time job at a Dollar General store making $8 an hour—and still struggles to find stability.

“I struggle trying to find things to eat, trying to provide for myself, trying to gather money together to get medication,” he said.  “Whatever you can think of when it comes to struggling I’ve been through it.”

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell issued an opinion in August that said Metro Council can establish a wage rate separate from the rest of the state.

Following that decision, council Democrats Attica Scott (District 1), Barbara Shanklin (District 2), David James (District 6) and Cheri Bryant Hamilton (District 5) introduced an bill that would incrementally raise the minimum wage—starting with a bump to $8.10 next July and eventually ending at $10.10 by 2017.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.