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Canton could soon be the first city in Ohio to raise the state-mandated minimum wage. One councilman is proposing an increase to help struggling families.

In fact, nearly one-third of canton residents are living at the poverty level, including James Settle. He has five children and is applying for a job at Case Farms for just over the minimum wage. He can barely make ends meet.

"It's difficult. I work and also have to get food stamps, which isn't cool. Maybe it would help get people off food stamps," said Settle.

Some of the larger retails stores in town pay employees the current minimum wage of $7.85 an hour. But city councilman John Mariol wants to raise it by almost two dollars.

"Everybody can agree that at $7.85 you can't pay rent, buy food and get back and forth to work. It's just not possible. The math does not equal. At $9.85 you're getting a little bit closer to being able to provide just the bare necessities for your family," said Mariol.

Mariol says the plan would exclude small businesses with less than 100 employees. As for James, he says any extra money would help families working hard to earn a living.

"That would be great. I think it would help a lot of folks who we're having a rough time," he said.

Once the Law Department determines whether Canton can legally increase the wage, it would go before council for a vote. At the earliest, the increase could take effect this summer.

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