Local Politics

Raleigh meets workers' demands, OKs budget

Posted June 16, 2009

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— The Raleigh City Council voted 7-1 Tuesday to approve a $697.6 million budget that includes enough money to hold the line on health insurance premiums for city workers while still providing them merit raises.

Councilman Philip Isley cast the sole dissenting vote on the budget, which covers the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Raleigh's property tax rate will remain at 37.35 cents per $100 valuation under the budget.

Raleigh City Council meeting Compromise benefits Raleigh workers, nonprofits

The budget proposed last month by City Manager Russell Allen called for higher insurance premiums while scrapping cost-of-living adjustments and capping merit raises at 4 percent.

The plan drew an angry response from groups representing police officers, firefighters and other city workers. The workers were especially upset that the council gave Allen a 4.75 percent raise as part of a contract extension.

During a Monday work session, Mayor Charles Meeker proposed using some reserve money traditionally set aside for debt payments to pay for added insurance costs for city workers. Councilman Russ Stephenson countered with a proposal that would have eliminated merit pay for six months to hold the line on insurance costs.

After much debate Monday and Tuesday, the council supported Meeker's idea.

"I know this has been a year when a lot of things were cut and not everything was funded. I think we've come to a reasonable resolution as best we can," Meeker said.

"We may not have gotten what we wanted, but we got a fair deal," said Keith Wilder, president of the Raleigh Professional Firefighters Association. "It's a tight year, a tight year for everybody."

The mayor's proposal also restored city support to some nonprofit groups, such as the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. The food shuttle collects food from supermarkets and restaurants and distributes it to needy residents.

"We've got more and more people who used to contribute funds (for us) to do our jobs now asking for help," said Jill Staton Bullard, executive director of the food shuttle.

The council also agreed to stick by its commitment to Allen. When city workers protested, council members decided to take a second look at his raise. After some discussion Tuesday, the council chose not to rescind or reduce the increase.

Wilder said his group doesn't object to the council's decision on Allen's raise, saying it would be hypocritical of workers to seek higher raises and deny the city manager his increase.

Councilman Rodger Koopman proposed that the city study pay increases for public safety officers in Raleigh and other cities. The study is expected to be completed this year.

The new city budget also cuts 85 vacant positions to eliminate a projected $20 million shortfall.

The Parks and Recreation Department takes the biggest hit, losing 27 open positions. The city would also cut operating hours and maintenance at community centers, public pools, parks and greenways.

Other departments with sizable cuts include inspections and public works, with 15 and 11 positions, respectively.

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  • ncwebguy Jun 17, 2009

    Raleigh has always done a good job of getting the most for its tax money, despite what the haters tell you.

    Raleigh's transportation issues include running CAT (not completely paid for with federal funds) *and* maintains roads NC DOT should but refuses to due to lack of funds from the capped gas tax.

    Raleigh also runs its water treatment plants *and* provides water for several adjacent municipalities -- Garner, Wake Forest, Knightdale, etc.

    The city also helps run the food shuttle mentioned in the story, runs some homeless shelters, and has several other community development programs. The parks and rec department is as good or better than any other in the state.

    It is sad that inspections will be cut. Now landlords will go back to letting houses rot for as long as they want and/or not maintaing occupied houses without fear of fines.

  • NCMAN 2009 Jun 17, 2009

    I am not discounting the hard work that most public servants do for the rest of us. However, at my job we don't have the abilty to protest the budget. Our last budget cut all our salaries by 10% and increased our health insurance premiums by 30%. I have little sympathy for someone who will get a cost of living increase at the minimum.

  • yeshoneyitsgreat Jun 17, 2009

    I guess all the state workers ought to try to find city jobs since they pay SOOOOOOOO much better!!!!!!!!

  • mr clean Jun 17, 2009

    Hey Southern, you signed up for the job. If you don't like it find another one.

  • WHEEL Jun 17, 2009

    By what kind of chinese accounting do you save money by eliminating VACANT POSITIONS. "Easley" "not everyone is happy" except Russell Allen who got his raise.

  • You are Funny Jun 16, 2009

    Good for Raleigh city workers......Maybe now they'll stop complaining

    wcnc: normally I agree w/you on lots of stuff, however I think you are being a little harsh towards the city employees. I think it sucks that WSO gets the shaft and the sheriff can kick you to the curb for little or no reason. You can't really voice your opinion for fear you'll lose your job. I get it...I'll match RPD and RFD with any other department in the state and I'll bet they run more calls for service and probablly do more officer initiated calls then anyone in the state. We do work hard for what we get just like I'm sure you guys do too!!! Hey if you guys wanted to rally against your Wake County Leaders i'm sure your brothes and sisters in the Ol' city would support you not take little jabs at you...

    Just saying...

  • RonnieR Jun 16, 2009

    I didn't know that Raleigh had any public safety officers.

  • NC Born Jun 16, 2009

    WCNC, you obviously are with the county....I've noticed you crying on every article involving city workers that has come across the net. If you really are this interested in the City then come join RPD...The job is a lot different but you will be welcomed. Be prepared to work your tail off though, RPD officers often have to do twice the work of most agencies around here and get dumped on daily...WSO does not even handle problems when they work off duty in the city...yup, they sit back, make their off duty money and call on duty Raleigh officers to come and take care of the issues...the majority of RPD Officers do not have take home cars, all attend training on their time off and normally have to sit in court all day on their day off...its apples and oranges comparing RPD and WSO but if you are ready to step up then please come on by...otherwise go cry somewhere else.

  • wcnc Jun 16, 2009

    "I ask you all, would you be willing to go through what RPD officers go through on a daily basis for $34,000 a year?"

    I know starting salary stinks, but give it a few years of COL AND merit raises and it shoots up pretty quickly. Not enough to compensate for what they have to deal with, I know. However, you also have to keep in mind that WCSO deals with those same job issues plus, NO raises this year!! They haven't gotten COL in at least 10-12 years. I don't see WCSO going to Commissioner meetings demanding raises in a financial recession. They realize they are fortunate to have a job (there was a chance of 100 job losses at WCSO alone this coming budget year) and will just work another year for little to no raise.

  • coolwill43 Jun 16, 2009

    what is he doing buying votes with our tax dollars. please vote theses people out!!!!!!!!!!!

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