RALEIGH, N.C. -
The economy is recovering. And with that recovery, the City of Raleigh is budgeting a pay raise for most employees for the first time in five years. But some members of the Raleigh Police Department want more than what the city is offering.
"We made that a real priority in this budget. Our employees have been one of our strongest assets always and particularly through this downturn," said Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen.
Raleigh's proposed $705 million spending plan includes a three percent merit raise for full-time employees who have been with the city more than a year.
Not everyone is satisfied with a three percent raise. The Raleigh Police Protective Association, a union representing more than 400 officers, is asking the city for an additional two percent cost of living adjustment for a total raise of five percent.
"We believe the economy has turned around enough that the city can afford it and they need to set their priorities and the priority is to give the police department a decent wage," said Rick Armstrong, a representative of the Raleigh Police Protective Association.
Armstrong says Raleigh's police wages are far from decent. "We're dead last. Our starting salary is lower than any other major police department."
The starting salary for an officer with the Raleigh Police Department is just over $34,000. Durham's starts officers at between $33,000 and $37,000 based on education levels. Charlotte starts its officers at no less than $40,000.
Allen believes three percent is a generous raise and that tax growth is still not at pre-recession levels.
"Actually, this is going to amount to about $6 million of revenue that will go just toward these merit raises for employees across the board," Allen said.
The police union has been in talks with the city council and Mayor Nancy McFarlane. Once approved, the 2013-2014 budget takes effect July 1.