Raleigh fire and police continue to push for significant pay raise

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Raleigh firefighters and police officers are pushing City Council even harder for a higher raise this year.

They say the pay doesn’t compete with other areas in Wake County – and in some cases isn’t even enough to pay the bills.

Police and fire representatives said waiting another year for a pay increase would mean losing more firefighters and police officers to other cities and counties.

“This isn’t just, ‘We want a raise for a beach house.’ This is, ‘We need a raise so we can pay our bills and go to the grocery store,’” said senior firefighter Chris Ferrell.

Ferrell is adamant about getting a significant pay raise this fiscal year.

He said the 3-percent increase that is in the proposed budget just isn’t enough, and hasn’t been for years.

“I think it’s not only police officers and firefighters. We have other people as well that aren’t paid what they should be,” said council member Mary-Ann Baldwin.

She is one of three council members that recently voted against looking at a bigger increase.

She said the city needs to overhaul its pay for employees, and she wants to wait until a study is completed next year to do it.

“I’m 100 percent committed to making sure police and firefighters get a raise next year, and making sure their salaries are competitive with other communities. But at the same time I’m committed to doing that for all of the city,” Baldwin said.

Four council members did vote to look at an increased raise.

“We are very grateful for the four council members who voted to discuss the issue of starting pay,” sadi Keith Wilder, president of the Raleigh Professional Fire Fighters Association.

But for struggling police officers and firefighters, discussions don’t pay the bills.

“There are firefighters, a regular contingent of our newest firefighters that donate plasma to put food on the table. And it’s just not right,” Ferrell said.

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