Take Action in the Asheville City Budget

Support Higher Wages in the Asheville City Budget for Those Struggling the Most

The Ask:  Encourage City Council to support higher wages for City staff struggling the most, including our underpaid firefighters.

Background:  The budget proposal presented on May 14th includes a 4.11% salary increase for all staff. This proposal would bring the lowest paid regular schedule City staff to $19/hr ($39,520/yr) and firefighters to $16.53/hr ($48,143/yr) as they work 2912 hours a year.  The City budget presented is balancing the need for staff raises across wage levels and departments with the constraints of the budget without a tax increase, however many advocates do not believe this proposal goes far enough to help the City workers struggling the most. Just Economics and the Asheville firefighters’ union have brought forth multiple proposals with the following aims:

  • Get the lowest paid Asheville firefighters to $18.25/hr which would be more competitive with other communities in North Carolina with a high cost of living.
  • Get the lowest paid City staff above $40,000/year
  • Ensure every City staff member gets a raise in 2024
  • Provide feasible options for making equitable adjustments that consider budget constraints

Just Economics has presented a proposal that considers a flat dollar amount increase instead of percentages and includes the firefighter’s proposal of an alternative wage structure in their department that brings up the bottom while addressing compression.  

The Bad News:  None of the proposals currently being considered get the lowest paid City staff to a full living wage of $22.10/hr or get the firefighter’s to an hourly rate above $19/hr. It looks as if a significant tax increase will need to take place next year to respond to growing needs.

The Good News:  Council members have had robust discussions and are considering options presented by Just Economics and the firefighters as well as proposing alternatives of their own.  Next year a tax revaluation will bring the opportunity to recalibrate wages and the budget.

How to Take Action:

You can thank Asheville City Council for considering alternatives to the proposed City budget and encourage them to consider the Just Economics’ proposal of a flat dollar amount wage increase for City staff on a regular schedule and the firefighters proposal to get their lowest paid firefighters above $18.25.  You can give this message to Council in the following ways:

  • In Person Public Comment:  The opportunity for public comment on the proposed budget is Tuesday!  Public Budget Hearing–May 28th, Asheville City Hall, 5pm (It is recommended to get there early to sign up for public comment)
  • Email:  You can email all Council members at this address: AshevilleNCCouncil@ashevillenc.gov 

The Council will vote on the budget on June 11th, but no public comment on the budget will be taken during that meeting.

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