Charleston City Council Tuesday night advanced the city’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The budget, initially discussed last month, includes an increase in the minimum wage for City of Charleston employees to $14 per hour.
The proposal comes amid concerns over high turnover in city departments, an issue some council members hope to alleviate by offering higher wages.
“I’m concerned that if we don’t pay our employees more, we are not going to be able to serve our citizens,” Councilman Harry Griffin said at a Nov. 16 workshop. “It’s really disheartening to see how many vacancies we have and they are in the positions we need the most.”
The city currently has 293 vacant positions budgeted, but that isn’t the only number on the council’s radar. There are 19 positions advertised, according to Charleston chief financial officer Amy Wharton, with nearly 176,000 views. But the positions have only seen 530 applicants, a 0.3% ratio compared to the target of 20%.
The minimum wage for city workers in neighboring municipalities may have offered some inspiration. Mount Pleasant offers $16.92 per hour and North Charleston offer $15.39. Charleston County currently offers $13.50, but will raise it to $15 in July 2022.