Cossetta's granted living wage ordinance waiverby Sasha Aslanian, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — St. Paul's Housing and Redevelopment Authority voted Wednesday to allow a restaurant that's expanding in downtown St. Paul to bypass the city's living wage ordinance.
The ordinance requires businesses benefiting from public financing to pay employees a living wage, defined as 130 percent of the federal poverty level.
Cossetta Italian Market and Pizza is seeking $2 million in TIF financing so it can expand its market and restaurant near the Xcel Energy Center.
Council Member Dave Thune championed the deal. He said, even with the waiver, most Cossetta employees will make a living wage, which is $11.82 an hour for an employee with health insurance.
"At the last minute, Mr. Cossetta came in and, basically, gave every employee he has -- full-time and part-time -- a 3 percent raise just because he was concerned that people were telling him 'we want living wage jobs,' " Thune said.
Thune says construction would begin in July. It's expected to create 200 construction and 100 restaurant and market jobs.
This is the second time the city has granted an exception to its living wage ordinance since it passed in 2007.