Raises for city workers to increase Raleigh taxes
Posted May 16
Raleigh, N.C. — City Manager Ruffin Hall on Tuesday proposed a $918.9 million budget for the fiscal year that starts in July, including a tax increase to help boost the salaries of Raleigh workers.
The proposed 0.7-cent increase to the local tax rate would add $14 to the annual property tax bill for a $200,000 house.
In April, Raleigh boosted the starting salaries of police officers and firefighters by 13 and 10 percent, respectively, to help with recruitment and retention. Both groups had lobbied for raises for more than a year, saying they couldn't afford to live in Raleigh and sometimes had to take second jobs to make ends meet.
Hall's proposed budget would increase starting salaries for police and firefighters even further, to $42,300 for police and $39,200 for firefighters, making them among the highest paid public safety workers in the area.
City officials also increased the pay of another 1,600 workers in April because some made less than $13.76 an hour, the living wage the City Council set in January, while others were in jobs with high turnover or worked in areas where pay was far below the market rate.
"This year’s proposed budget is unique," Hall told the City Council. "It is not only the culmination of the annual budget process but a major milestone in a two-year journey to create a new compensation system for our employees. Creating a competitive compensation system is fundamental to meeting the customer service needs of our growing city."
The budget also would fund new positions to improve communications between city officials and local residents – including a redesigned city website – to work with developers and to boost community outreach by the Raleigh Police Department. Other new positions included in the budget include 10 firefighters, two planners and four people for stormwater management.
The proposed budget also includes a 3 percent increase to monthly water and sewer rates to help the Public Utilities Department maintain and expand infrastructure as Raleigh grows and a 75-cent increase to the monthly residential solid waste collection fee.
A public hearing on the proposed budget will be held at 7 p.m. June 6 in the City Council chamber of the Avery C. Upchurch Government Complex, at 222 W. Hargett St. The council will hold budget work sessions at 4 p.m. each Monday in June, and a final budget will be approved by July 1.