Raise for city employees becomes major issue; tax increase narrowly fails

Police and firefighters packed Asheville City Council chambers tonight, demanding a higher raise than the 1 percent set forth in the proposed budget. A suggested property-tax hike to pay for the increase failed 4-3, with Council members asserting that it needed more consideration.

Representatives of city firefighters and police officers said that while there hasn’t been a raise for staff in three years, they hadn’t pressed the issue, knowing the city was facing financial challenges. But they felt that the prposed 1 percent cost-of-living increase wasn’t sufficient, and instead asked for a 4 percent pay increase.

Mayor Terry Bellamy called for Council to commit to a raise immediately, proposing that the city should defer capital projects to get the necessary funds. “People are more important than buildings,” she asserted. Council member Cecil Bothwell broached the possibility of a small property tax increase to raise the necessary funds. But other Council members, while expressing a desire to find funds for the raise, wanted more deliberation before deciding how to accomplish that goal. Council member Gordon Smith warned against “shooting from the hip.”

Council member Chris Pelly proposed a 1-cent tax increase to pay for $1 million in additional staff compensation. The measure failed by one vote, although Bothwell and Bellamy joined Pelly’s push. Council committed to an additional budget work session to try and figure out a way to generate funds for a bigger raise for city staff. Council member Marc Hunt, who voted against the increase, said that he didn’t feel comfortable voting on a tax hike that wasn’t on Council’s agenda beforehand.

Council also:

• Unanimously approved a ban on future digital billboards in the city of Asheville.

• Unanimously approved financing for 62 units of affordable housing in the Eagle/Market Street area, in the form of a loan the city would secure from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

• Heard a report on a search for a new evidence-room manager for the Asheville Police Department from Chief William Anderson. The evidence room has improved security and surveillance, Anderson also said, though he refused to divulge further details, citing an ongoing investigation into missing guns, drugs and money.


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9 thoughts on “Raise for city employees becomes major issue; tax increase narrowly fails

  1. Roger Hartkey

    Tgecrause should be larger and a small tax hike to get us there is reasonable. I hope that council will support this proposal. There has to be a way to do better than a 1% raise for those who have endured not just loss of income but cuts to the very programs that they are dedicated to serve us through. Morale can take a huge hit after three years of no raises…even more when citizens have more needs for services.

    Citizens want govt services but for little. A well intentioned budget tried to do that with the same rate of tax. Let’s improve those revenues by paying a bit more for what we receive. We are already getting a good deal.

  2. Roger Hartley

    Apologies…the first sentence should say…The raises should be larger.

  3. Matthew Burd

    The APD costs the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in scandals in the last year.

    We had an officer sexually harass a female subordinate. The city settled for $48,000

    We have a huge evidence room scandle with “no officers involved”. The city paid out 175,000 for an audit they are happy not to even look at.

    Punish the police!
    We should dock their pay until the learn have to behaive.

    Who’s police?

  4. mat catastrophe

    You want to dock the pay of the entire police force due to the malfeasance of a few here and there?

    I think you’d make a great cop.

  5. Tax increases drive revenues out of the city.

    “it needed more consideration.”

    Yes. What would guarantee more votes? Bike paths or law enforcement?

    • bill smith

      So you are implying you you think the city needs to raise taxes to pay for more law enforcement. How libertarian.

  6. Dionysis

    It’s nice to see Mr. Peck back giving advice on governance and schooling people on the proper political philosophy to adopt, and what Asheville should and should not do. Getting advice from someone who describes himself among “the poor” who champions the payday loan scam industry is always welcome.

    You might, however, want to include links that actually connect to something other than ‘page not found’, which is where the two links you posted take the reader.

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