Changes to wage ordinance assured

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Questions answered in Wapello County Supervisors meeting

Courier staff writer

OTTUMWA — Changes to the Wapello County minimum wage ordinance are certain following a discussion by Wapello County Supervisors Tuesday about issues raised during the minimum wage debate in September.

Following the passage of the minimum wage ordinance Sept. 13, questions about specific issues have been answered as other counties that have passed similar ordinances have fine-tuned their own laws. Wapello County supervisors took no action Tuesday but plan to draw up changes to the ordinance for approval at a subsequent meeting.

Supervisor Steve Siegel presented three issues that he felt supervisors needed to address. The first was a training wage for employees du! ring a 90-day probationary period. "We set it at $6.35, but it didn’t go up" as the minimum wage increased incrementally, said Siegel. He proposed changing the language of the ordinance to make the probationary wage 85 percent of the minimum wage, thus making the interim wage rise as the minimum wage rises each year.

A second issue supervisors addressed was enforcement of the minimum wage. Siegel said this was a concern that city officials had raised. Siegel said he didn’t think enforcement would be a problem in Wapello County as it has not been a problem in Johnson County.

To anticipate any problems of enforcement, Siegel suggested supervisors amend the ordinance to include specific language from the Code of Iowa stating that a violation of the ordinance will be punishable by a civil penalty of ! not more than $750 for each violation and not to exceed $1,000! for each repeat offense. The county attorney would be in charge of enforcing the ordinance, Siegel said. "It's civil. It’s not a criminal matter."

The ordinance as currently written says simply that any violation "shall be considered a county infraction punishable as provided by Iowa Code Section 331.307."

The third issue addressed was a lower wage for high school students working restricted hours at entrylevel jobs. Siegel suggested adding wording from the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act addressing youth wages and limiting the hours of full-time students.

Supervisors took no action Tuesday but agreed to — A paving project near Chillicothe will c! ontinue with use of federal money left over from another part of the secondary road project in that area. Supervisors approved the agreement between Wapello County and the Iowa Department of Transportation Tuesday.

"Our grading [project] came in $800,000 under budget," said Supervisor Jerry Parker. "That $800,000 will now be used for the paving."

The federal aid agreement secures federal funding for paving on H21 from the intersection of make these changes to the ordinance. "We’ll be amending the ordinance," said Supervisor Jerry Parker, "so whatever procedure needs to be done we need to do it."

In other business, supervisors heard from the new executive director of Pathfinders Resource Conservation and Development, Inc., Anna Bruen. "I just wanted to come and introduce myself," said Bruen.

! The new director reminded supervisors of various projects that the R! C& D has been involved in such as mine reclamation, Historic Hills Scenic Byway and en- vironmental assessment and assured supervisors that she would keep them informed of ongoing projects in Wa- pello County. Supervisors discussed changing the date of the next meeting due to the Nov, 8 election but did not set a date.

Reporter Winona Whitaker can be contacted at and followed on Twitter @courierwinona.

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