RICHMOND (CBS SF) – The city of Richmond has moved a step closer to having the highest minimum wage in the state.

City staff drafted three different proposals in January, to raise the minimum wage to $11, $12.30, or $15 an hour, with the hopes of placing one of the plans on the November ballot.

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But the city council opted not to put the item to voters, but instead, to decide on an ordinance themselves.

On a first reading of the proposal Tuesday night, the city council voted to hike the minimum wage to $12.30 an hour. The jump would not happen all at once – as the proposal includes a transitional period, beginning with the effective date of the ordinance, and ending December 31, when the minimum wage would raise from the state rate of $8 an hour to $9 an hour.

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Drew Douglass, Richmond’s Deputy Director of Workforce Development, said businesses with fewer than 10 workers would be exempt.

“The benefit would be for more workers having a living wage job, which is necessary” Douglass said. “This is something I’m always looking for for my clients, to try to find living wage jobs, that they can afford to raise their families and do the things they need to do.”

Although many who spoke at Tuesday night’s meeting were in favor of raising the minimum wage, some small business owners said their profit margins are already so thin, that any increase in cost could force them out of the area, or out of business altogether.

Under the proposal, the minimum wage would increase to $9.60 in 2015, $11.52 in 2016, and $12.30 in 2017. San Francisco currently has the highest minimum wage in the Bay Area at $10.74 an hour.

The wage hike still has to be ratified in a second reading next month.

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