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Bloomington Hotel Not Bound By ‘Living Wage’ Ordinance

A new hotel coming to downtown Bloomington in 2014 will not commit to paying employees a living wage.

The city council voted Monday to give a piece of land valued at about $25,000 to the group REI investments and White Lodging for a Hyatt hotel to be located near Kirkwood and Morton that will have 168 rooms.

If the companies don’t agree to pay employees a living wage, which is currently $11.66 an hour, then they will not be eligible for any tax abatements. Councilman Andy Ruff, who was the only councilperson to vote against the land transfer, says the hotel is now essentially receiving an abatement because it is getting the land for nothing.

“I couldn’t with a clear conscience vote yes to give them a piece of public property without a commitment to honor what I think is an ordinance that represents a core Bloomington community value.”

But Ruff says REI Investment employees staff the city’s parking garages and do make a living wage.

Visit Bloomington Executive Director Mike McAfee says ultimately the new hotel is a good thing for the city.

“Heads in beds is what we say all the time, and we have sales people in our office that work with those segments trying to bring those large groups of people here,” he says.

Crews will break ground on the new hotel in the spring.

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