San Marcos offers tax breaks in exchange for $15 "minimum" wages for workers

San Marcos takes a step toward paying what they call living wages to working families.

The city has seen its population boom. It grew by more than 30 percent between 2010 and 2014, according to U.S. census numbers. With all the growth, jobs must come right behind it.

City leaders are worried the population growth may not be equal to higher pay. They've adopted a $15 per hour base pay for businesses if they want to get tax breaks and other incentives.

“Any time they get money back, it reduces their overall costs, and that's important to businesses. They have a bottom line,” Scott Gregson, San Marcos city councilman, said.

Gregson believes families cannot live on the current minimum wage, but the $15 per hour can give them a livable wage.

“At that level a family with two children can feed their family, house their family and give their kids a good education,” he said.

“Certainly there are companies here or will continue to come here, that don't pay that level of income. We're not setting a minimum wage here,” he said.

Gregson says companies should be excited about the chance to pay livable wages to workers.

‘If they have property we can rebate property taxes. If they have a business that charges sales taxes we can rebate a portion of sales taxes that would be given to the city, we can give those back,” he said.

Amazon is one company that did get some tax breaks, although since they came here before this was adopted, they are not paying the 15 dollars an hour. Gregson says the city's workers deserve respect.

“Why would we want to invest in jobs that continue to perpetuate a cycle of poverty in our community”? he said.

Gregson says this pay would include benefits. He says he knows obviously not all companies are willing to pay $15 an hour, but it’s step in the direction they are headed.

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