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Ventura, CA: County Board OKs Living-Wage Increase; Foy dissents
Ventura County Star
Kathleen Wilson

June 28, 2011
View the Original Article

The minimum wage paid by Ventura County government will be increased by 50 cents, to $10 an hour plus benefits, in July.

Under an ordinance passed by the Board of Supervisors in 2001, the county pays what is known as a "living wage" to county staff members as well as contract workers.

The rate was originally set at $8 an hour plus benefits, has been raised four times to account for inflation since 2001, and is now $9.50. For workers without benefits, the minimum will go from $11.50 to $12 per hour.

California's minimum wage, set in 2008, is $8.

The "living wage" is automatically adjusted for inflation unless managers find the increase would cause an undue burden on the county budget. County Executive Officer Mike Powers did not find that to be the case this year.

Officials estimated the cost at $145,000 the next fiscal year.

Voting 3-1 Tuesday, supervisors amended county pay scales to reflect the change.

"It has served us well," Supervisor Kathy Long said of the living wage. "You either support workers at the front end or they end up in our system in the long run."

Supervisor Peter Foy dissented. Foy said the wage increase would boost unemployment and the cost of paying for various projects.

Supervisor Steve Bennett, who co-authored the living wage ordinance, was absent for the vote. He left briefly to attend a meeting of the Ventura County Board of Retirement. Bennett is a member of that board, which considered the appointment of a new administrator Tuesday but did not name anyone.