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Raleigh City Council approves 2% pay rise; Police, fire brigade say it’s not enough

RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) – The Raleigh City Council on Tuesday approved a 2 percent increase for full-time city employees.

Executives said the pay rise represents a roughly $6.4 million cost to the city.

City officials discussed a possible increase in property taxes to fund more revenue for city employee salaries amid staff shortages in several departments.

Members of the Raleigh Fire and Police Department protested Tuesday for a bigger pay rise.

The group stood outside the community building in downtown Raleigh before the city council meeting, protesting the proposed pay rise.

While council members discussed fire and police wages, they decided to unanimously pass the pay rise to help staff explore possible solutions to these pay issues.

CBS 17 crews heard no mention of the protest, which was held prior to the session during the city council meeting.

Those outside the community center said 2 percent wasn’t enough and their wages were low compared to other cities and counties nearby.

One of the main concerns of the protesters was that the proposed 2 percent wage increase is not in line with the region’s increase in the cost of living, which has risen by 8 percent, they said.

Some signs say, “Would you do our job for 1:50 an hour?”

The police and fire brigade want more money to make ends meet and to make it easier to recruit more employees.

Rick Armstrong of the Raleigh Police Protective Association said a 10 per cent increase across the board would make wages more competitive.

“There are over 200 police officers not patrolling these streets every day, there should be,” Armstrong said. “I’ll be doing this job in 20 years, I’ve never seen so many vacancies.”

He said about 20 percent of the police force is empty.

Protesters said it was a trickle down effect from lack of pay and it affected everyone.

“If you have fewer officers on the street, response times will be longer,” Armstrong added.

It’s the same with the fire department.

“Being able to at least pay us a decent wage would help retain more people,” Saron Reed said. “It’s going to benefit the citizens a lot because we’re going to have the manpower.”

Reed graduated from the Fire Academy five months ago.

He has a son and is engaged.

He told CBS 17 that the pay just isn’t enough.

“We’re doing what we can. It’s not enough,” Reed said.

He said the fire brigade could hardly keep up with the staffing.

“There were 20 in our class. When we graduated, there were 20 people who retired or went somewhere else,” Reed explained.

While the raise is helping, people CBS 17 spoke to said they needed more.

“This is actually a wage cut with inflation. You will earn less this year than last year. This is unacceptable,” Armstrong said.

The increase is expected to take effect from April 23. Employees should see the increases on their May 13 paycheck.

Tuesday’s meeting was supposed to be in person, but the city announced Monday it would be virtual.

Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said she had tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday – Enforcing the change.

https://www.cbs17.com/news/local-news/wake-county-news/raleigh-city-council-approves-2-pay-increase-police-fire-say-its-not-enough/ Raleigh City Council approves 2% pay rise; Police, fire brigade say it’s not enough

DUSTIN JONES

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