In what is expected to be a close vote on Monday night, the Aurora City Council is scheduled to consider raising the minimum wage from $12 to $17 by 2025.
The council held a study session on Sept. 21 about the possibility of raising the minimum wage to $20, but they opted to not move forward.
But in a video posted onto the Colorado's People Alliance Facebook page Monday night, Councilwomen Alison Coombs, who represents Aurora's Fifth Ward said the proposal "is back."
"We have the votes, so we're going to get this done," Coombs said in the video.
This came as a surprise to some of the city's council members, including Dave Gruber, who is an at-large representative.
"(The video) was the first sign that this proposal was coming back," Gruber said.
Gruber said that he is against the proposal because of the potential negative impact it could have on local businesses and its cost to the city.
"The city hires many high school students to work in our parks during the summer time, so this would limit the number of students we would be able to hire," he said. "There would also be wage compression and that's a problem for the city and for the businesses."
Coombs says the change is necessary because of the workers in Aurora -- especially essential workers -- are struggling.
"I think it's very clear that our city is not affordable to people working for minimum wages. Period," she said. "I think people are pinched between high housing costs and stagnant wages, so we need to address both of those issues, and this addresses the wages side of the equation."
In the study session held last month, Coombs proposed raising the minimum wage to $20, but said she would amend the proposal to $17. During the session after council members not bring the proposal to a vote "without support out of study session," she said.
Coombs told The Denver Gazette on Thursday that she previously said she would not be bringing up the vote this year, but after more thorough discussions with her colleagues, she now believes there was enough votes to pass the amendment.
"I think having more discussion of the $17 an hour proposal and how it compares to the state and Denver (truly helped)," Coombs said.
Adding additional language regarding third-party complaints and resources available to small businesses also contributed, Coombs said.
Councilwomen Crystal Murillo, who represents the First Ward, said in an email statement that she will vote in favor of the proposal.
On Thursday, Coombs declined to identify the other members of the council that will vote for the proposal.
Although the proposal to raise minimum wage could benefit many workers, many businesses are against the proposal.
"I figured (the raise) would cost me $300,000 over the next 10 years, and that's just with the raise for our servers," said Eldon Larson, the owner of the Wine Experience.
"The employees here aren't going to have this higher minimum wage, because they're going to lose their jobs. There's no reason for me to stay open if I can't make money."
Kevin Hougen the president and CEO of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, said hundreds of businesses have reached out to the chamber about being overwhelmed in the midst of a global health pandemic.
"We've got an overwhelming response back that it's not the time to raise the minimum wage during this pandemic," Hougen said.
Hougen says over 1,100 members of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce have reached out him against the proposal. He doesn't know of any business wanting the change.
But Aurora resident Carolyn Pace, a member of the Business Advisory Council and small business owner, says she is in favor of the proposition.
"There's a narrative that minimum wage will hurt business, but for my business it'll help, and it'll put more money in the pockets of people. They won't be as stressed out about paying their healthcare bills or rent," Pace said.
Aurora Resident Dolan Knapp says the additional money is needed and said he he knows first-hand what it's like to struggle.
"The walls are closing in on so many people, and I've been there," Knapp said.
Knapp says that after graduating from college he moved to Connecticut for several years, but he moved back to Colorado several years ago. Here, he says, wages were the same, but housing prices went up. Despite having a college degree, it was difficult to get by.
John Ronquillo, an Aurora resident for the last seven years, says over time the cost of living has drastically gone up, which has cost residents the opportunity to purchase homes, townhomes, or even afford rent.
"There has been a stronger pinch (on residents' wallets) over the past few years," Ronquillo said. "I know people who work as home healthcare assistants, but also drive for Lyft and DoorDash to make ends meet."
Although he favors the increase says he understands why people would be opposed.
"I think the initial reaction of increased costs, especially the business owners, would give some cause for concern, but I would urge people to really come to the table and look for a creative solution to where we are actually in building up our community."
"I value these small businesses in Aurora and I want tax dollars to stay in my community."
Gruber said he is not in favor of the proposition being brought up on Monday, but he said that if the surrounding cities came together and made this a regional issue, he could change his position.
"If we talked about raising the minimum wage in the entire community area, that would have been a much better discussion with us, but for the City of Aurora to do it without the surrounding cities to do it, it's very dangerous for us economically," he said.
The Aurora City Council will meet and vote on the proposition on Monday at 7:30 p.m.