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Tax hike suggested for raising Raleigh police pay

Posted June 3, 2008
Updated June 4, 2008

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— In front of a packed crowd, nearly 40 Raleigh police officers attended the city's public budget hearing Tuesday evening to ask taxpayers for a raise.

"I think public safety is a priority,” Rick Armstrong, with the Raleigh Police Protective Association said. The group looks out for the interests of more than 400 officers.

Their proposal would tack an additional $366,000 onto the proposed $643 million city budget. The money would be used to boost the salaries of officers with college degrees.

"Fifteen-hundred dollars for a bachelor's degree, $750 for an associate's degree," Armstrong said. "It's important that we remain competitive with these other police departments. We have a serious retention issue."

City Manager Russell Allen tried to resolve that retention problem with a 5 percent salary increase for new officers and firefighters. A lateral entry program was also designed to give better pay to officers with experience.

In North Carolina, Raleigh police pay is competitive, but nationally, it is 5 to 10 percent below average, Chief Harry Dolan said.

"It seems government wants to help us out by raising our taxes,” Raleigh resident Gerry Coleman said.

Coleman referred to the 5-cent property tax hike already included in the budget and discussed during Tuesday's hearing.

Allen's budget would set Raleigh's tax rate at 38.17 cents per $100 assessed value. Last year's tax rate was 43.5 cents, but city officials rolled it back to 33.17 cents to be revenue-neutral after Wake County's property revaluation.

The 5-cent increase would add $75 to the annual tax bill of a $150,000 house.

Allen said half of the tax increase is earmarked for paying down debt on bonds approved for city parks and for capital projects like widening streets and building a new law enforcement center downtown.

The city also needs more money to pay for services because of the slowing economy and rising costs, Allen said, noting city revenues are about $5 million below projections.

Residents cautioned council members about tax increases.

"It's my family's money. When you take more out of my pocket, my family has to make do. I'm asking you be careful and responsible with my family's money," Victor Marks said.

About $3.2 million in new spending would be dedicated to public safety, including higher salaries for police officers and firefighters, 12 new police officers and the construction of a new fire station.

The proposed budget also includes 35 new employees at the downtown convention center, scheduled to open this fall, and 24 more employees for the municipal water and sewer system. Allen also called for a 15 percent increase in water and sewer fees paid by local customers.


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  • You are Funny Jun 4, 2008

    well officers are only getting a 1.5% cost of living increase, however the city is raising their costs for he health coverage by 5% so every officer is actually taking a paycut for all of you who think they don't need any more money...Yep that's right those whiney officers are taking a pay cut and actually have been for the last couple years and yet they still come to work to protect everyone. Those terrible men and women...

  • elfprincess Jun 4, 2008

    Same problem nationwide....not enough compensation to strap on a gun, pin on a badge and be a moving target! Problem with adding pay to the "officers with degrees" is this...what kind of degree? Is it in criminal law? Or is it just a little BS degree in - design, english, or what? The officers on the street need to either be educated in Crimianl law or as in the case of my husband, have 20 plus years in dealing with the puiblic. What compensation are we talking about for the ones who have been around and weathered the storms?

  • RonnieR Jun 4, 2008

    Rev RB, K'dale has PUBLIC SAFETY Officers, not police officers.
    They have to be certified LEOs AND certified FFs, that is why they are paid more. Apples and oranges!

  • oldschooltarheel Jun 4, 2008

    Raising taxes - geez, the idea is as virulent as an STD. Did Raleigh catch it from Durham? Vote all these taxing rascals out this November - people PLEEEZE!

  • dbcooper41 Jun 4, 2008

    they're just using the police raise as an excuse. the tax increase is need to pay for expansion of city services to meet the needs of new developments. this expansion should not be paid for by property taxes, but rather by honest impact fees, not the watered down ones just passed. why am i expected to subsidize the development industry? every house built throws the tax equation farther out of balance. it will only get worse until we make the builders pay the true cost of their projects. water users are using half as much water per person, so why is expansion needed? why do we need a new fire station to serve existing homes? we don't, it is for new homes. let the newcomers pay for the expansion when they relocate here and buy their houses.

  • RaleighMan Jun 4, 2008

    Must be nice to be able to "go back to the well" every time the checkbook runs out of money. I do believe the men and women of our law enforcement do deserve higher pay, but ENOUGH TAXES ALREADY!

  • nofear Jun 4, 2008

    no to tax increase. Police maybe should get raise somewhere else. They all moonlight and some make money doing tarnish badge projects anyway.

  • Wake1 Jun 4, 2008

    Don't forget the 15-20% in the budget for waste & corruption! Taxes never go down - only up. It's getting too expensive to live in Raleigh - time to head to a more efficiently run town.

  • christisone Jun 4, 2008

    I say no no no tax increase. We don't need a fancy downtown. Why is the city spending all this money on things that we don't need. I do agree we need more real policemen.

  • colliedave Jun 4, 2008

    How much overhead in the city budget? Time to start triming some fat.