Raleigh employees’ pay needs to keep pace with growth

Raleigh City Manager Ruffin Hall, who signed on in 2013, has believed the compensation structure for city employees needed to be clarified and upgraded. He’s right, and a plan likely to come before the council in Hall’s budget next month would represent an improvement not just in pay but in the way the city moves people up the ladder as they gain seniority and skill.

To make the city more competitive, Hall would raise base pay for many. A senior firefighter, for example, would currently range between $37,500 and $60,000 in salary. Under the Hall proposal, that would go from $44,500 to $72,000.

The council is looking at a plan that would cost $12 million initially and $50 million over time. But people are the most valuable, and should be the most valued, assets the city has, and Raleigh has been fortunate to have such people. But they’re harder to find, and harder to hold to, doubtless in part because Raleigh’s profile as a modern, high-tech city has become more prominent in recent years. Other cities, all over the country, look to such places to hire employees.

Yes, there are things for the council to consider, such as whether to phase in the plan or move more quickly, and how to give raises in a way that will seem fair, and for that matter be fair, to employees, who will know what’s going on because they are, after all, public workers. But overall, this is a very important and positive step.

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