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Legislature hears minimum wage tip credit, opioid concerns ADVERTISEMENT

Legislature hears minimum wage tip credit, opioid concerns

WATKINS GLEN--The Schuyler County legislature met Monday, March 12 for their regular meeting in the legislative chambers. The evening included two public hearings followed by the passage of all resolutions.
During the public participation portion of the meeting, two issues were brought up and discussed. The first was about the minimum wage tip credit and feelings about Gov. Andrew Cuomo contemplating a change in the regulations. The second was regarding the language in a proposed local law deeming the opioid epidemic and its effect on the county a "public nuisance."
Restaurant owners in Schuyler County appealed to the legislature that changes Gov. Cuomo is exploring regarding wages for tip-earning employees could hurt their businesses. Currently, in New York, workers such as waitresses can be paid $7.50 per hour with a credit for tips of $2.90. The alternative is paying workers in traditional tipped jobs full wages, and largely removing the expectation of tipping.
The legislature had on the agenda a resolution urging Cuomo not to eliminate the minimum wage tip credit in New York. Bill Tague, the owner of Jerlando's Ristorante in Watkins Glen, said at his restaurant a waitress can make $25 per hour with the current system, and the proposed changes will result in menu prices increasing. He mentioned the large difference already between New York and Pennsylvania, with the initial employer contribution of $7.50 for a New York tipped employee vs. $2.83 in Pennsylvania. He said with Pennsylvania just 30 minutes away from the region those visitors could experience "sticker shock" if they saw the New York prices adjusted with the new model.
Curt Connelly of Curly's Family Restaurant echoed many of those feelings and said they have already had to increase prices yearly just to comply with the current regulations. He said changing the system would hurt workers who look forward to large tip potential in the busy summer season.
The legislature voted to urge Cuomo to not eliminate the minimum wage tip credit. All voted in favor except Michael Lausell, who wanted to table the measure to further explore the issue.
During the comment period for the law "declaring the opioid epidemic and its effect on the county a public nuisance and establishing a cost recovery procedure," Elizabeth Grieco spoke out about the language in the law, expressing the word nuisance was inadequate and offensive in conveying the loss and tragedy addiction can bring to families, including her own. She said she lost her son Bryan in June. County Attorney Steven Getman explained the term was used solely in regard to its legal significance and not to describe those who are suffering from addiction. He said the intention of the law is to hold companies accountable who have marketed and promoted prescription opioids. The law passed unanimously.
Other measures approved by the legislature included: A local law authorizing per diem compensation under the "Counsel at First Arraignment Program;" authorizing a transfer of funds; on-call pay for assistant district attorneys; contract with the New York State Division Of Criminal Justice Services (NYSDCJS) for A Stop Violence Against Women formula program grant; support legislation in the state senate to amend the penal law in relation to including fires caused by the manufacture of a controlled substance; authorize and implement funding of the state "Marchiselli" program-aid eligible transportation federal-aid project; authorize a grant application for Medicare Improvements For Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) funding; amending the 2017 contract with Stephen J.A. Maybee, P.E. for an engineered design for Schuyler sewage system waivers; accept and establish 2018-2023 immunization grant; authorize county participation agreement with the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation for a state septic replacement program; negative declaration of environmental impact, review and modification of Schuyler County Agricultural Districts #1, #2 and #3; setting a public hearing for annual agricultural district enrollment for 2018; authorize two-year contract with Three Rivers Development Corporation for workforce development study; authorize transfer of funds from contingency for general liability insurance; resolution opposing Gov. Cuomo's proposal contained in the 2018 budget review bill to amend laws regarding certain forest tax policies.
The next legislative meeting is Monday, April 9.

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