- Associated Press - Sunday, April 7, 2019

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Businesses outside Flagstaff are raising their starting pays to match the city’s higher minimum wage.

Flagstaff law requires businesses only within city limits to pay a minimum wage of $12 per hour this year, a dollar higher than the state’s minimum wage, the Arizona Daily Sun reported last week.

The Forest Highlands Golf Club, south of the city, has matched the city’s minimum, and so has the Silver Saddle Center - the gas station and general store north of town. The Snowbowl ski resort started paying $12 an hour two months before the law mandated it.

The leadership team and board of the golf club had decided to match the city’s minimum during budget discussions, said Patricia Ashbrook, the club’s interim general manager. Officials were concerned that it could be difficult to attract and retain seasonal employees because they might want to pursue higher paying jobs in the city, she said.

“It made good business sense for the club and was a positive move for our employees,” Ashbrook said.

Employees at Silver Saddle have always been paid more than minimum wage, so the managers and owner decided to adopt Flagstaff’s wage model, manager Vanessa Montez said. The business has raised prices, but its prices tend to fluctuate based on vendor costs, Montez said.

The business has experienced very little turnover in the last three years, possibly because of the higher wages, Montez said.

The Snowbowl opened the season with the higher wages, but the resort is not sure if it will continue raising pay to match the city, assistant general manager Robert Linde said.

The city’s minimum wage is set to increase incrementally each year to reach $15 per hour in 2021.

“We are trying to keep skiing affordable and labor is our single largest expense,” Linde said. “Balancing labor costs and remaining competitive is important for us as an employer and a recreation venue for Flagstaff and northern Arizona.”

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Information from: Arizona Daily Sun, http://www.azdailysun.com/

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