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Raleigh council approves budget, tax increase

Posted June 20

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— The Raleigh City Council voted during a work session Monday in favor of an $858.6 million budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, including a 2-cent increase to the local property tax rate.

Half of the tax increase will go to expanding the inventory of affordable housing units in the city, with the other half helping pay off Raleigh's $52 million purchase of the Dorothea Dix property from the state last year to create a major park near downtown.

City Manager Ruffin Hall included an average raise of 3.25 percent for city workers in the budget, which sparked protests by public safety workers. Hundreds of Raleigh police officers and firefighters and their supporters packed City Hall two weeks ago, demanding raises of 5 to 10 percent.

The police officers and firefighters said Raleigh pays less than surrounding communities, and many cannot afford to live in the city they serve.

"We are disappointed that the City Council chose to unexpectedly approve the budget during today’s work session," Raleigh Firefighters United said in a statement. "With considerable opposition in regards to first responder pay, further dialogue was needed before making a decision that affects the lives of so many of Raleigh’s first responders and their families. We will continue our efforts to address disparities that exist in our salaries."

City officials say they are conducting a pay study to see how what Raleigh pays across a range of positions stacks up, and they plan to devote more resources next year to salary increases. Fire and police representatives said they are paid well below industry standards.

"They're basically 18 to 20 percent below market value just in their own county," said John Midgette, executive director of the Police Benevolent Association. "I don't know what kind of pay study they need to be able to comprehend that and do something about it."

The president of the Raleigh Professional Firefighters Association said a rally is planned outside City Hall for 11 a.m. Tuesday.

City officials said they plan to devote more resources to salary increases next year.

The tax increase will add $40 to the annual property tax bill on a $200,000 home.


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