Select Board doesn’t support minimum wage hike in Amherst

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – The idea of a high minimum wage in Amherst already faces tough opposition.

A UMass student got enough signatures on a petition, but the effort to get the state Legislature to sign off on a high town minimum wage is off to a rough start.

The Amherst Select Board voted Monday night not to recommend that the Town Meeting members pursue state approval for the proposal to increase the town minimum wage from $8 an hour to $15 an hour.

The increase the town is considering is much bigger than the state proposal. House Speaker Robert DeLeo wants to raise the state minimum wage by $2.50 to $10.50 an hour.

This proposal is separate from President Obama’s call to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

People told 22News they fear setting a town minimum wage so high would drive businesses away.

Joan Temkin, Acting Director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce said, “We are not opposed to increasing the minimum wage. That might be a very good idea, but let’s have everybody do it at the same time.”

John Coull said, “Even more than the reasonable, the most important is that it be region wide, or state, or national. Level playing field becomes a big part of the issue.”

The Amherst Finance Committee said the hike would cost the town more than $220,000, but supporters said, the more workers earn, the more money they’ll spend locally.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, the state minimum wage is $8.00 an hour, but in Amherst, it could be $15 an hour.