Trying to live on what is legally considered a "living wage" is seriously challenging. Flip the coin, and paying that wage can be equally challenging. That is particularly true of non-profit organizations. The challenge before Ann Arbor City Council tonight is to try and strike a balance.
And, that may involve changes to the manner in which the city's living wage ordinance is applied.The ordinance has been in place since 2001, and this year it requires the majority of those who have contracts with the city to pay employees $12.70 an hour, or $14.18 an hour, if no benefits are included.For non-profits and human service organizations that's a big financial difference from the state-mandated minimum wage of $8.15 an hour. Additionally, from 2008 to 2012 the living wage increased 18 percent while municipal funding for non-profits declined 11 percent.
First ward Council member Sabra Briere supports the proposed changes. "The multiple goals the city has, paying a living wage, providing human service funding, taking care of the community, that those goals can be achieved more effectively," Briere says.
According to the Housing and Human Services Advisory Board's proposal, more balance would be accomplished with a two-tiered, set of changes. First, the Administrator would be directed to increase general fund in the city budget to support human services at a rate equal to, or greater than, the rate of change in the living wage.
The second would eliminate the requirement non-profits submit a funding request prior to the living wage being set for a given year.
The resolution also calls on this board to review the entire living wage ordinance and propose any other changes that might be needed.
City Council meets tonight at seven.