Minimum wage increase creates ripple effect for Ozarks communities

NIXA, Mo.-- In November, voters in both Missouri and Arkansas approved an increase in their state's minimum wage.

The increase is 75 cents for next year 85 cents a year after that until 2023 when it will stop at $12 an hour.

And for the Nixa Park and Recreation Department, they say that increase is scary.

"It is a little nerve wracking," said Director Matt Crouse. "The nice part is the city could be exempt. The bad part is how are we going to hire employees after that. When they can go other places and work for that additional wage in that minimum wage"

They say this wage increase equates to more than $20,000 a year in annual part-time increases for the department.

"We use part-time employees for a wide range of program offerings," said Crouse. "Anything from our evenings and weekends at the front desk, to fitness attendance in the fitness center, life guard, camp counselors, referees, score keepers and things like that for our programs."

And with more than 100 part-time workers employed throughout the year, to make it up, it is raising fees for the city's fitness center.

"This one rate increase will cover us for many many years," said Crouse.

And it is hoping it'll work, but hoping even more that the community understands.

"It's not something that we want to do, it's not about increasing our profit abilities, it is purely about making sure that we maintain that same level of service that they've come accustom to," said Crouse.