Letter: Pay up to keep police and teachers in town

Graphic by Lori Deaton

In the April 10 Mountain Xpress, the cover story was titled “Cop Out” [“Priced Out: Police Officers Struggle to Afford Asheville Addresses”]. The focus of the story was that police officers who work for the City of Asheville can’t afford to live here. It’s the primary reason that roughly a third of all positions remain unfilled and that most of employed officers live outside of the city.

The same week that story ran, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction reported that between March 2022 and March 2023, there was a 30% turnover of educators in the Asheville City Schools district. It’s clear to understand why. The cost of renting an apartment or buying a home has gone through the ceiling. If a first-year police officer at $47,000 can’t afford to live here, a first-year teacher on a single income of $42,500 can’t afford to live here, either. By economic necessity, individuals in these two professions are essentially homeless in Asheville.

A recent CNBC survey indicated that 78% of the people polled felt they needed an income of $100,000 to feel economically comfortable. Almost no one in the survey indicated that they could live comfortably on an income of less than $50,000 a year. When police officers and teachers cannot afford to live in the community where they are employed, there is a serious problem.

Imagine if there were a 30% turnover in Asheville in any given year of doctors, dentists or mechanics. The bottom line is that the turnover rate for teachers and the unfilled positions of police officers in Asheville is unacceptable. Having to live outside of the city with longer commutes to work is also unacceptable.

In such a beautiful and vibrant community as Asheville, it’s not difficult to see what’s causing the problem. There’s an old saying: “You get what you pay for.” When it comes to police officers and teachers, we are not paying enough. Under current conditions, police officers and teachers will continue to stay away and go away. It’s the smart thing for them to do.

To solve this problem, there is only one solution: Pay up.

— Richard Boyum


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4 thoughts on “Letter: Pay up to keep police and teachers in town

  1. Jim

    Perhaps you don’t realize, across the board raises for government employees equals higher taxes for everyone else, contributing to the problem you are claiming to solve.

    • luther blissett

      The question is “how much higher?” If it’s $5 a month on the median city property tax bill to give 200 cops an extra $10,000, is it worth it?

      • Jim

        Your $60 per year will be tacked onto the rent, landlords will not be taking a loss due to government policies, just like corporations costs will be passed along to the customer.

  2. indy499


    Btw, ask one of your council members what the non police/fire turnover is in the city and they don’t know. Only govt would layer in raises and tax increases and not know their attrition rate

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