IOWA CITY, Iowa — Some businesses in an eastern Iowa county are pledging to retain a $10.10 base wage for their employees after the Legislature nullified a local minimum wage boost.

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors voted two years ago to use three 90-cent increments to locally increase the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour. The Legislature voided the ordinance in March, saying it was unenforceable, The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports .

Some lawmakers have said different minimum wage levels in various cities and counties could be confusing for businesses. The state minimum wage has been $7.25 since 2008.

The Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce surveyed its roughly 900 members after the Legislature’s decision. Of the roughly 90 businesses that responded, 78 percent said they would continue paying the $10.10 wage or a higher wage. Another 12 percent were undecided, while 10 percent said they wouldn’t continue with the wage increase.

The Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa, a worker’s rights group that pushed for the county’s wage increase, released a list on Thursday of more than 140 local businesses that have pledged to maintain the $10.10 minimum wage.

“We believe we’re going to double our numbers very soon when we reach out to the rest of the businesses,” said Mazahir Salih, a community organizer and past president of the center.

Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan, who voted to pass the wage increase, said the ordinance will improve the community despite the state’s decision.

“I think there are people who are paying better than they were before this and realizing that it’s not a bad thing for their businesses, and I think that there are people who are working and earning more money than they were,” Sullivan said. “And I think that’s all good.”

There are numerous reasons for businesses to continue paying the higher wage, including lower employee turnover and an improved image by publically support a higher wage, said Peter Fisher, a researcher at the nonprofit Iowa Policy Project, which researches policy decisions in Iowa.


Information from: Iowa City Press-Citizen, http://www.press-citizen.com/