Amherst Town Meeting rejects minimum wage hike - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Amherst Town Meeting rejects minimum wage hike

The Amherst Town Meeting met in a special session Wednesday night and voted against an article to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour in their community.

This article had been voted down by the Select Board, the Finance Committee and many other business groups throughout Amherst before Wednesday night's vote.

"We feel that it will really hurt the economic viability of the downtown business district," said Barry Roberts of the Amherst Business Improvement District. 

Town officials say if this passed, it could've cost the town more than $220,000 and would force some businesses to close or lay off workers.

"Because it's minimum wage and hiring younger individuals to do jobs and teenagers and paying them $15 an hour when they are not going to reinvest it into the community," said Ronnie Wagner, an area farmer. 

Some members of the Town Council support a minimum wage increase, but one at the state or federal level.

"Unemployment, low income is a significant problem for every family whether you are above the minimum wage or below," said Isaac Benezra, member of the Town Meeting. 

The petitioner of the article was at the meeting and says he will continue to fight to raise the minimum wage.

"The idea is that Amherst would be a domino and that first Amherst, then the state of Massachusetts and then the nation," said Matthew Cunningham, who drafted the petition. 

Town Meeting was dismissed within an hour of the motion made.

The Massachusetts state legislature is currently pursuing a bill to raise the minimum wage from $8 to $11 an hour over the next three years.

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