Fort Collins City Council votes against minimum wage increase

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
The Comedy Fort on a snowy evening in Fort Collins, Wednesday night, April 15, 2021. Comedian David Rodriguez persuaded investors to open the club on College Avenue during the coronavirus pandemic.

Fort Collins won’t see an increase in its minimum wage — for now.

The Fort Collins City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to postpone adopting its own minimum wage and resume discussion in 6 months, meaning it would keep the state’s minimum wage in the meantime.

Mayor Pro Tem Emily Francis felt that the City Council didn’t hear enough from the residents, workers and businesses who would be affected by the increase which would’ve been between $18-19 an hour.

“I think we've had a lot of business come out and talk about why they're against it, and we really haven't heard from employees that would be impacted from this,” Francis said. “I think the business community is more aware of what's happening and I think it would be good for the city to concentrate more on those low-income residents who would fall under this minimum wage and the benefit to them.”

Colorado municipalities are allowed to adopt their own minimum wage under a bill signed by Governor Jared Polis in 2019. The state’s current minimum wage is $12.56. It will increase to $13.65 in 2023.

Fort Collins initially proposed to increase the minimum wage to $15. But according to a data analysis found in city documents, a sustainable wage in Fort Collins is $18.39 for a single adult and $19.92 for two fully employed adults and a child. 

Small business owners, like Adam Eggleston, voiced opposition to raising the minimum wage. He felt small businesses would not be able to sustain the impact of an increase in labor costs, not in the same way larger businesses such as King Soopers and Mcdonald's might.

“As a small business owner who is trying to buy a coffee shop, currently, this minimum wage increase would mean I would have to increase the cup a latte up to about $7 an hour and sell almost 60 of them an hour just to make minimum wage increases. The proforma for that doesn't make sense,” Eggleston said. “We will get Starbucks. But, we don't get the mom-and-pop shops.”

The city plans to increase the minimum wage for city employees to $15 an hour in 2023 regardless of Tuesday’s decision. That’s according to its budget. 

The Fort Collins City Council will revisit the increase through work sessions and hope to vote on the issue next summer. If the minimum wage increase is approved, it would take effect in 2024.