Mayor: Paying seasonal workers $15 per hour will hurt town

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TOMS RIVER -

The mayor of a Jersey Shore community says that paying seasonal workers $15 per hour as minimum wage will hurt the town and drive up prices.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation earlier this year to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour over the course of the next five years. The governor has said that a higher minimum wage will strengthen the middle class and give security to working families.

But Toms River Mayor Tom Kelaher says that he and the mayors of other New Jersey communities will be forced to increase taxes and cut services to pay city employees who earn minimum wage.

“It's going to cost us money. Where's the money going to come from? We're having enough trouble and we still have a cap on our ability and we're not going to raise more taxes on people to pay for this,” says Kelaher.

RELATED: Gov. Murphy: Increased minimum wage ‘good for our local economy’ 
RELATED: New Jersey becomes 4th state to approve $15 hourly wage 

The mayor says that he will have to increase the pay for Toms River’s seasonal employees, like lifeguards, beach cleaners, crossing guards and bike patrol police officers. He says that once the $15 per hour rate hits, it will cost Toms River $575,000.

Under the new state law, the minimum wage will increase to $10 by July. Virtually all Toms River employees make more than $10 an hour, so the impact this year will be minimal.

But Kelaher says that going forward towns like Toms River will have to decide what to do at places like beaches, golf courses and skating rinks.

“Where are we going to get the $575,000 when it's fully operational? Probably raising fees or cutting some of the some of the programs,” the mayor says.

Kelaher says that the town has not decided which fees would be increased in order to make up the money to increase worker pay. But he says that he will not put the burden on taxpayers.

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