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New London - The City Council on Monday night voted to raise the minimum wage for municipal employees and contractors working for the city to $10.10 an hour.
In a 6-1 vote, the council adopted the ordinance, which comes ahead of President Barack Obama's appearance Wednesday at Central Connecticut State University to tout his proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to the same amount.
Though the city's full-time employees make more than $10.10 per hour, the raise will benefit the roughly 40 seasonal employees who work at various programs run through the city's Recreation Department.
Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio said he will include funding for the same number of those seasonal positions in the budget he will present to the council on April 1. The wage increase will cost the city approximately $13,250 annually, the mayor said.
"I feel that is a nominal impact to do the right thing," Finizio said. The mayor proposed the ordinance in January after Obama, in his State of the Union address, urged Congress, governors and mayors to raise the minimum wage.
The minimum wage in Connecticut is $8.70.
The lone vote against the ordinance, Councilor Martin Olsen called it "fluff" and expressed concern that the raise in the minimum wage will necessitate an increase in the city budget.
"Feel good doesn't really accomplish a heck of a lot," Olsen said. "I think the mayor actually made my point earlier recognizing that in order to maintain staffing you have to increase the budget."
Under the new ordinance, which becomes effective immediately, any contractor who is hired to do work for the city will be required to sign a notarized statement saying that any of its employees who work on city property will be paid at least $10.10 an hour. That stipulation was added to the ordinance after Councilor Michael Tranchida raised concerns over the city's ability to enforce the ordinance.
Also Monday night, the council appropriated $1,074,184 of capital improvement funds for road and sidewalk repairs for Gallows Lane, Belden Street, Belden Court, Farnsworth Street, Oneco Avenue, Saltonstall Street, Buell Place, Lyman Court and the Coast Guard sidewalk on Route 32.
The council also approved a contract for additional pilings to be added to the south side of City Pier to accommodate large ships, like the U.S. Coast Guard barque Eagle. The improvements to the pier will be funded by $98,000 of state Local Capital Improvement Program funding.
City officials had said that City Pier needed a new fendering system, bollards and mooring hardware to allow the Eagle to dock there. No company submitted a bid for the full project because the work needs to be done this month -before both the Eagle and Mystic Seaport's Charles W. Morgan are expected to dock at the city's waterfront for extended stays. The short time frame and scope of the work discouraged firms from bidding on the project.