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Sonoma City Council to explore higher minimum wage

A divided Sonoma City Council on Wednesday voted 3-2 to explore whether it’s feasible to set a higher minimum wage within the city limits.

Councilman Steve Barbose, who had the item placed on the council’s agenda, said the city owed it to workers in the wine and hospitality industry to look at the issue. Raising the minimum wage, he said, could benefit local businesses in the area.

“People at the lower end of the economic ladder spend the new money they make,” Barbose said, adding, “They spend it at the grocery store. They spend it on new shoes for their kids.”

Although it could benefit working-class families, Mayor Tom Rouse argued it would be tricky to implement in such a small city of about 11,000. He said it would require a lot of tracking and enforcement on behalf of the city.

“There’s only three finance people in the city. Staff is about 30,” he said before the Wednesday night meeting. “We just don’t have the resources.”

Councilman David Cook joined Rouse in voting against the move to allow city staff to solicit bids from consultants to look at raising the minimum wage. Council members Ken Brown and Laurie Gallian voted in favor of looking at a minimum wage.


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