Rockland businesses have mixed feelings about city’s minimum wage increase

Voters approved a gradual increase to $15 an hour.
Rockland, ME
Rockland, ME(WABI)
Published: Nov. 9, 2020 at 5:49 PM EST
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ROCKLAND, Maine (WABI) - Business owners in Rockland have mixed feelings about increasing the city’s minimum wage.

Voters last week approved a gradual increase to $15 an hour.

Manager of Puffin’s Nest, Ann Hoppe, has less than 25 employees so the new minimum wage rules won’t apply to her directly, but she’s worried about how it might impact hiring.

“I feel everyone deserves to get paid for what they do but it’ll definitely make it more competitive for me in a workforce that is tough to find help right now," said Hoppe.

City Councilor Nathan Davis proposed the increase to help the working-class people in Rockland.

The vote was approved by nearly a 2-1 margin.

“The biggest and most obvious thing is to just try and build an economy and a society where people on the lower end of the economic ladder can simply afford to live with dignity," said Davis.

Right now the minimum wage is 12-dollars an hour. The current plan will gradually raise it to 15 dollars an hour by 2024.

“I think as a business community we have an opportunity with a referendum like this to demonstrate to the people that work in our community that we care about them deeply," said Benjamin Dorr, City Councilor and Co-owner of Curator Consignments.

Hoppe says she understands the idea behind the increase but she thinks the decision should be left up to the state.

“It also comes on top of a recent reassessment of building evaluations which have gone up which in turn means our taxes go up so if we keep getting all these increases of expenses, it’s going to be tough on businesses to make it," said Hoppe.

Davis says he knew there would be push back but he’s hopeful the gradual change will allow businesses prepare.

“I really want to live in a place where working class people can live well and this will hopefully be a step in the right direction," said Davis.

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