Raleigh police, firefighters upset over lack of pay as city leaders get big raises

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Some Raleigh first responders are upset they haven’t received pay raises despite some city leaders receiving pay increases.

Raleigh police officers and firefighters have been protesting for months, saying their pay is way too low and many first responders are leaving the city to take jobs at other agencies that pay more.

“Something has got to change, we’re losing people at a record pace,” said Raleigh firefighter Chris Ferrell.

During the most recent budget process, firefighters and police officers requested 7-percent raises.

City council chose not to give those raises, stating they were waiting for the completion of a city-wide pay study before making any decisions regarding wages.

However records obtained by CBS North Carolina show several city leaders received pay raises without a pay study in 2015.

Of the 15 highest paid city employees, eight saw an increase in salary from 2015 to 2016.

Those who saw the biggest payouts were:

  • City Attorney Thomas McCormick, whose annual salary went from $232,405 to $259,000 (11 percent increase)
  • Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown, whose annual salary went from $143,817 to 160,000 (11 percent increase)
  • City Clerk Gail Smith, whose annual salary went from $122,400 to 133,750 (9 perent increase)

raleigh city raises

“It’s just disappointing that our leaders would choose to take care of the top people and just leave us to the side,” Ferrell said. “If it’s good enough for us to wait for that pay study then certainly we feel like they should keep their word and everyone should wait for that pay study.”

The Raleigh City Council voted to give all employees merit-based pay raises of up to 3.5-percent this year, but told first responders they would have to wait for their specific requests.

“When you become a firefighter, you want to help and you want to do the right thing,” said Raleigh Firefighter Alec Artz. “But when you’re let down by the municipality that employs you, it’s tough.”

The pay raise for the police chief has led to low morale for officers who are still waiting for their pay increase, according to a local police union.

“For the rank and file officer, it’s tough for him to go out there and patrol and protect this city when he knows the top executives are getting raises and the city has so little respect they can’t give him an equal raise,” said Rick Armstrong, Vice President of Teamsters Local 391.

A few weeks ago, Raleigh Firefighters United, a group of more than 400 city firefighters, announced they’re raising money to put up billboards to protest the lack of pay. The billboards expected to be up in mid-September.

CBS North Carolina tried to get answers from Raleigh leaders, but they declined to comment.

Officials said Mayor Nancy McFarlane was on vacation and unable to comment. Members of the Raleigh City Council did not respond to requests for comment.

In June, the city issued the following statement related to pay for first responders:

“Public safety will always be a top priority for the City of Raleigh. This year the recommended budget includes up to a 3.5 percent increase in salary for all employees. We are actively engaged in a data-driven compensation study that will look to address any issues in our pay system for our Police Department and the other City departments that serve our growing community.”

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