Saint Louis, Mo. — While Mayor Francis Slay looks to spend the better part of his summer nearly doubling the minimum wage in the City of St. Louis, detractors of the plan got another bullet in their gun this week when St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger said St. Louis County would not be following suit.
Stenger cited a lack of legal authority to do so – not a desire to keep wages lower, as the primary reason he wouldn’t be joining Slay in pushing for a new $15 an hour minimum wage by 2020.
Stenger told reporters with St. Louis Public Radio that the County charter did not permit an increase of the minimum wage in its 90 mununicpalities. Only in unincorporated St. Louis County does Stenger have the authority to hike wages, something he called “impractical.”
The announcement from Stenger comes as a blow to Slay and his allies, who have long suggested that a wage hike would be a regional solution, rather than concentrated just within the city, and with county and city boarders already porous to the movement of people and capitol, lots of Slay’s detractors say that his plan will simply drive City business into the county.
With some already whispering that Slay’s stated $15 an hour goal is a moving target rather than a set-in-stone necessity, it’s possible that Stenger’s move could loosen up negotiations on an immediate, smaller wage increase for all workers, something Slay would still be able to publically tout as a win.
The St. Louis Board of Aldermen is currently reviewing Slay’s formal proposal to raise the wage.
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.