Missouri’s new minimum wage law could impact the people who make your sons and daughters’ next basketball games possible.
They keep score, face long lines at concession stands, answer phone calls and man the gate. They are the people who work part time for Nixa Parks and Recreation. Their boss wants to make sure they are paid fairly and that they are paid enough to want to do their jobs.
Nixa Parks and Recreation Director Matt Crouse said the city employs about 90 part-time workers on an annual basis. Crouse is concerned about how a pending increase to Missouri’s minimum wage will affect the parks department’s budget and its ability to hire seasonal and part-time workers.
“I do have that very strong fear that if we don’t increase with minimum wage it will be very, very hard for us to get employees in what is already a very, very hard market to get those employees,” Crouse said.
Crouse brought up his concern at a Nixa City Council meeting in November, just after Missouri voters approved a minimum wage increase through a ballot proposition on Nov. 6.
Proposition B calls for the hourly minimum wage in Missouri to increase from $7.85 per hour to $12 per hour by 2023. According to results certified by the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office, 62.34 percent of Missouri voters approved Proposition B.
According to the city’s official website, Nixa Parks and Recreation is currently hiring for several part-time positions at various rates. Basketball scorekeepers, for instance, make $7.85 per hour, while a site monitor will make $13 per hour.
A new minimum wage of $8.60 becomes effective January 1, 2019.
All private businesses are required to pay at minimum, the $8.60 hourly rate, except retail and service businesses whose annual gross sales are less than $500,000. Pursuant to Proposition B, the minimum wage will increase 85 cents per hour each year through 2023.
While the law would not technically apply to the city of Nixa, Crouse explained to Mayor Brian Steele that it will impact Nixa Parks and Recreations’ ability to find workers for the fitness center, aquatic center and recreational sports at competitive wages.
“There is an exemption that the city would fall under,” Crouse said.
“But we wouldn’t be able to hire anybody,” Steele said.
“That’s correct,” Crouse replied.
“They’d rather go work at McDonald’s than come work at the pool,” Steele quipped.
Crouse estimates that if Nixa were to follow the state minimum wage guidelines in 2019, it would result in an immediate hike of $17,000 in wages, not including additional payroll taxes, to the parks department budget.
“I felt like $17,000, $18,000 was a little too much more for the parks department to absorb. Is it absorbable? It is, absolutely. Do we have to have a fee increase? No,” Crouse said.
Two weeks later, Crouse addressed the city council again about raising rates and fees for recreational programs to offset the pending wage increases.
“I want to make sure you guys are in support of that,” Crouse told the Nixa City Council. “You may get some questions regarding those increases.”
Fitness center membership fees will go up by $3 a month or by $30 a year.
Crouse said the fee increase is effective Jan. 1, 2019 and that notices are being mailed to members 30 days in advance.
Crouse also proposed an increase to aquatics admissions, increasing pool admission by a dollar, resulting in a resident admission fee of $5, non-resident admission of $6, and lap swim, splash time, and evening swim at $3.
He said the increase would ensure the pool is operational and viable through 2019.
Steele wanted to delay the fee increase to the pool.
“Could we hold off on the pool for next year?” Steele asked.
Crouse said yes.
“We can, absolutely,” he said. “The pool is going to be a subsidized no mater what. It’s been subsidized through the reserve accounts and we are going to have to go further into that. There is no way the pool is going to keep up with the pay raise.”
The council directed Crouse to keep the fee increases to the fitness center for 2019 and delay fee increases to the aquatics center for another year. The Silver Sneakers program is not affected.
Crouse estimated that Nixa could take in an additional $75,000 and $186,000 per year by raising the cost of X-Center memberships by $3 per month. The X-Center currently has 3,100 memberships of various types. Rates have not increased in five years.
Membership fees, in fact, have not changed since fitness equipment was delivered to the Nixa Community Center in 2013.