Government & Community Affairs Committee Meeting Minutes – September 26, 2019 8:00-9:30 a.m. STAFF
Carrie Atiyeh Richard Scharf
Evan Dreyer Greg Leonard Adam Schlegel Sid Wilson
Greg Feasel Amy Mayhew Janice Sinden
Nick LeMasters Todd Munson (ph) Al Timothy
Luis Benitez Sonia Riggs
David A. Genova Edward Robinson
Barry Hirschfeld Frank Schultz
CALLED TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order at 8:05 a.m. by Janice Sinden. Presentation: The committee introduced themselves and welcomed Evan Dreyer, deputy chief of staff for Mayor Hancock, Skye Stuart, legislative director for Mayor Hancock, and Frank Romines, assistant city attorney, to present Denver’s proposal to raise minimum wage citywide. Evan recapped the City’s wage increase for city employees and contractors that went into effect July 1, 2019. HB19-1210, passed by the Legislature during this session, allows municipalities to increase local minimum wage beyond the state minimum wage. Mayor Hancock and Councilwoman Kniech are leading the effort to increase Denver’s minimum wage.
The proposed Denver wage rates are: o $13.80 on 1/1/2020 o $15.87 on 1/1/2021 o Beginning 1/1/2022, wages would increase annually based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). If the CPI goes down, no change will be made. o Under HB1210, wages can only be adjusted on Jan. 1 and annual increases cannot exceed 15% or $1.75/hr, whichever is higher. o State law requires the citywide minimum wage to be paid to all adult workers and emancipated minors, and does not allow for exceptions.
A “tip credit” of $3.02, as required by the state, is available for food and beverage workers.
Government & Community Affairs Committee Meeting Minutes – September 26, 2019 8:00-9:30 a.m.
Enforcement will fall under the umbrella of the Auditor’s office and employees could file complaints.
The Mayor’s office feels the new minimum wages rates will address income inequality and will help an estimated 100,000 workers who will see higher wages. As part of their outreach efforts, the city has 6 Town Hall meetings scheduled between October 2nd and October 29th, in addition to other meeting and presentations in the private sector. Evan stressed the Mayor’s office sense of urgency to help the 67,000 workers currently making less than $13.80. With rising living costs, especially with housing, they do not feel they can afford to wait another 15 month until 1/1/2021, the date when many believe municipalities would first be able to implement the new state law. The Mayor has been clear about his messaging on this issue, including during his campaign. Evan shared that 15 other cities have taken similar steps with 12 to 13 more to follow. The Mayor’s office has studied other cities (ex. Seattle) and anticipated negative consequences, including price increases and loss of jobs, which did not happen as anticipated according to some studies. Evan and Skye assured the committee that the Mayor’s office is sincere in wanting to hear all of the feedback gathered at the various community outreach forums. The City Council members who the Mayor’s office have spoken to runs the full spectrum - some Council members think the proposal is too fast too soon, some do not think it goes far enough. The exact timeline to move this proposal through Council is not yet set but it is anticipated to be in committee in early November with final passage anticipated by the end of November. Board members posed questions and expressed concerns:
Since the first increase goes into effect in just 3 months, this does not allow time for businesses to adjust their 2020 budgets which are already set. Compression of wages will also cause budget impacts beyond those making minimum wage or entry level wages, including managers and supervisors. Many hotels and restaurants are already paying above the current minimum wage because they cannot attract workers otherwise. Members also expressed concern about the potential for an economic downturn or recession just as these higher wages are coming into effect. Restaurants in particular are concerned that this proposal further widens the wage disparities between front of the house and back of the house employees since the tip credit is set by the state at a fixed amount. Lastly, concerns were expressed regarding the potential for layoffs, reduced hours, reduced benefits and other impacts associated with higher labor costs. Evan
Government & Community Affairs Committee Meeting Minutes – September 26, 2019 8:00-9:30 a.m. acknowledged the committee’s concerns and encouraged everyone to contact and speak to their respective City Council members. Evan Dryer also presented referred Question 2A, an amendment to the Denver Charter, creating the new Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) and reorganizing the Department of Public Works. The new department will enable the city to: accelerate projects; more easily identify new solutions; deploy innovative technologies; provide better options for people who want to bike, walk or use transit; make our roadways safer for all users regardless of mode; and ensure that equality is infused throughout the City’s entire transportation network. Establishing a department focused on transportation will elevate this work and make it one of the highest priorities for the residents, businesses, and visitors in Denver. However, it was not clear to Board members how this reorganization allows for new programs, funding or abilities that are not already allowed under the existing Department of Public Works. One member of the committee, who had read the ordinance language which will be referred to the voters, suggested it is merely a department title (name) change. Public Works will become a division of the new DOTI. It is requested that VISIT DENVER make a $10,000 contribution to support the campaign, including a mailer to all Denver voters. Following the presentations, Board members discussed and recommended that VISIT DENVER remain neutral on the minimum wage proposal but consider submitting a letter to the Mayor and Council members outlining the questions and concerns expressed. Regarding 2A, DOTI’s focus on transportation and mobility aligns well with the Denver Tourism Roadmap. However, the board should be prepared for a future request for VISIT DENVER to support an eventual tax increase to support additional transportation projects. A motion was made to contribute $10,000 to the 2A campaign, seconded, and passed unanimously. The recommendation will move to the Executive Committee for final approval. Chair’s Report: Janice and Nick quickly updated members about the upcoming orientations with new and reelected members of City Council. Director’s Report: Carrie shared that the Tourism Improvement District (TID) annual plan for 2020 will soon be submitted to the City. The TID, with BIDs and GIDs, will present to Denver City Council in October and November. Carrie gave an update from a conversation following Auditor O’Brien’s Orientation. He is seeking to run a charter amendment on the November 2020 ballot that the Auditor for the City and County of Denver must be a certified CPA. This is not currently a requirement and the general public probably does not know it is not a requirement. He feels this will elevate the qualifications for the position and is in line with the state requirement. Auditor O’Brien inquired about possible support for this effort from VISIT DENVER. The committee felt that
Government & Community Affairs Committee Meeting Minutes â€“ September 26, 2019 8:00-9:30 a.m. VISIT DENVER could not take a position without conflict as a contractor, but could act as a conduit to VISIT DENVER Board members who might be supportive and others in the finance and auditing sectors. Adjourned â€“ The meeting was adjourned at 9:38 a.m.