Public input sessions begin on St. Paul's $15 minimum wage proposal

St. Paul got the opportunity to weigh in on a proposed ordinance that would raise the minimum wage within the city to $15 an hour Thursday, an increase from the already existing $9.65 an hour mark that would follow Minneapolis' decision to implement the change last year.

The move was a top campaign priority for Mayor Melvin Carter, who says it's an "urgent" concern for his office right now.

"Everyone at my table is concerned about workers and also the economic health of the city of St. Paul," he said. "That’s why I’m committed to signing this into law before the end of this year."

Many gathered Thursday for the first of what will be four public input sessions welcomed the initiative, saying that raising the minimum wage will benefit the city as a whole. Despite some concerns from business owners and others, the contention seemed to lie not on if, but when--and how--the policy would be enacted.

"There’s a lot of issues that need to be thought about very carefully," said Tim Mahoney, the owner of Loon Cafe in Minneapolis. He's seen the minimum wage begin to rise across the river, and worries about the initiative's unintended consequences. "It’s going to change the dynamics of the worker. I think that the worker will see their hours cut, I think you’ll see automation, a lot of automation."

The next public input session will take place Saturday, August 4 from 9:00 a.m. to 12 p.m. at a location that will be determined at a later date.