About 10 restaurant owners and industry representatives asked city councilors on Monday to step in and impose caps on future increases in Albuquerque’s minimum wage.
Carol Wight, chief executive officer of the New Mexico Restaurant Association, said the group wants the city to impose a limit on much the basic $8.50 minimum wage can increase each year. Under the current ordinance, the increase is supposed to match changes in the Consumer Price Index, but it isn’t otherwise capped.
The association also wants the city to hold off on another increase for tipped employees, who got a boost of $1.70 an hour this year and are due for at least another $1.27 next year. Wight said her group wants to leave this year’s raise intact but avoid next year’s.
Four restaurants, she said, had already closed, though they didn’t want to be identified in public.
“We should not wait for more casualties,” Wight said.
Voters approved the city’s new minimum-wage ordinance in November, and it went into effect Jan. 1.
Several councilors said they were sympathetic to business owners but reluctant to overturn the will of voters.
“It would seem to the public that we’re not listening to them,” said Don Harris, a Republican.
He suggested the city could put changes before voters in October, when the next regular city election is scheduled.
Kathy Diaz, owner of Monroe’s, said the mandated increase for servers, who already make $15 to $18 an hour once tips are included, means she will have to reduce employees’ fringe benefits, annual bonuses and paid vacation.
“This minimum wage has hit us particularly hard,” Diaz said.
— This article appeared on page C2 of the Albuquerque Journal